My Dad worked hard when I was a kid. He was a fruit and deli man his whole life. He started with his brother and his "three legged horse" and cart (as he called his lame horse) selling fruit and vegetables on the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey--mostly to the sailors coming off the ships from all over the world. I inherited his multi-national coin collection made up of coins he collected from those days.
He worked overtime--a lot. He also worked holiday mornings (Thanksgiving, Easter.... even sometimes Christmas). For the most part, these were his deli jobs. He had one job for several years that had him on the night shift--as a fruit-veggie man. I'd remember him coming home to have some "dinner" in the morning right before I left school. He had little time left in the day for anything...
But still he squeezed time in for me--to go fishing and crabbing on the Hudson, to show me how to plant in the garden, to go row boating in a local park, or to cook. Yes, Dad cooked--and he was a far better cook than my Mom (there, I said it) for the Holiday meals especially. He made the best roast beef, fist-sized meatballs, ,amazing roasted "Virginia" ham for Christmas, and a huge turkey for Thanksgiving. He was an expert at carving meats--after all, he was a Deli Man.
But it was his simpler meals that I remember most.... the comfort food. One of these was his "Potatoes and Eggs". Simple, quick, tasty and belly filling. I'll be honest, I never knew that what Dad was making was called a frittata until I was a grown man. There's an Italian idiom used when someone has screwed something up badly... “hai fatto una frittata". It literally means "you've made an omelet", but it refers to how a frittata can quickly become a mess. I consider it a tribute to the casualness of this dish. You'll rarely find a frittata on a restaurant's menu in Italy simply because it's a dish made by people in their homes. You'll rarely make a frittata perfectly and the same each time. Some come out wonderfully intact and can be sliced like a cake, while others will need to be scooped up out of the pan and piled rustic style on the plate. No matter, it's still delicious comfort food.
In our house, we have "Potatoes and Eggs" every so often, mostly for a lazy Saturday lunch, although it can be an excellent colazione (breakfast). What I love about it is how fast you can throw it all together (especially if you use canned New Potatoes and don't have to boil fresh potatoes)... and how I can change it up a bit each time, depending on what leftovers I have handy. Here's a basic recipe, sticking closely to how my Dad would make it...
(9-10" frittata for 2-3 people... OK, maybe for 4 if you eat like birds. You need a 9-10" non stick fry pan.)
The Basic Recipe:
1 can of "New Potatoes" (Del Monte has good quality potatoes, diced, sliced or whole)
2 tablespoons of butter (for frying)
2 tablespoons of light olive oil (for frying)
1 small onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated (and more for topping off the frittata)
salt and pepper to taste
small bell pepper, diced or julienned
caramelized onions (you would need to prep these beforehand)
diced ham, smoked bacon, prosciutto, pancetta or Guanciale, (fried beforehand)
cherry tomatoes (halved) or sliced wedges of Campari style tomatoes
roughly grated fontina, mozzarella or caciocavallo cheese
black pitted olives
Preheat your oven to 425 F.
You can serve a slice (or wedge) of your Potatoes and Eggs with sliced, toasted ciabatta or with full blown garlic bread. We've made a dinner out of this by making a tomato and chopped black olive bruschetta to serve along with the frittata. It's also nice when paired with a small bowl of soup. We tend to have it by itself with a dollop of a simple marinara sauce (OK... or the way my Dad would serve it--with Ketchup). Top it off with marinara and more grated Parmesan cheese. If you like, add a small glass of Chianti or even a bottle of beer. It's comfort food. It's fast food for the Italian kitchen. It's just damned good.
Copyright 2015, Jerry Finzi - All Rights Reserved