My mother-in-law, Maria, taught me how to make a frittata that is gooey and almost-but-not-quite ‘runny’ … as opposed to a frittata which, though edible, is overcooked and on the rubbery side. Nothing worse than rubbery eggs … (think overcooked scrambled eggs and you want to weep, for instance.)
For years I would cook the frittata/omelette until it was done on one side, then transfer it to an oven and cook the top side under the grill/broiler. In other words, I was scared stiff of turning the frittata over with the aid of a large plate, imagining the disaster that would ensue on the kitchen floor. When I eventually did muster the courage to ‘flip’ the frittata, it turned out to be far less difficult than I had imagined. So come on: give it a try!
I think, also, that people are a little wary of moist, slightly undercooked, frittate because they are worried of catching salmonella via an undercooked egg. This is a perfectly sensible preoccupation and my answer to that is … make sure you buy good quality eggs! In Italy it is still thought that a raw egg is good for one’s health … “bere un ovetto fresco” means ‘drinking a fresh egg’ … And though personally I don’t like ‘drinking’ a raw egg myself (barring a raw egg yolk on tartare), I must say I’ve never come across banner headlines decrying the death of Italians through salmonella brought on by eating raw eggs. So let us be sensible about the whole raw egg business.
Onto the frittata that is Nonna Maria’s signature dish. It requires the following:
And here are the mozzarella chunks scattered all over the frittata. Make sure you stir in the centre of the frittata because this is where it will take longer for the eggs to cook. The whole point of stirring the frittata is to get the eggs to cook quicker and all over, rather like they do with scrambled eggs. You want to ‘scramble’ the eggs in the frittata, but only at the very beginning of the cooking. This is the ‘secret’ to a soft frittata.
When the frittata looks more or less like this, i.e. when the eggs have cooked on the surface looking similar to scrambled eggs, and when the bottom layer is, instead, cooked all over … well, now is the time to ‘flip’ it.
Move the hot frying pan away from the flame and rest it somewhere close by. Put a plate over the frying pan that is large enough to cover all of it. Then, using both hands … get hold of the pan’s handles and …
Remove the frying pan and put it back onto the flame. This is what the frittata looks like at this stage … The part that cooked on the bottom of the frying pan is now sitting on top of the plate. As you can see, it is cooked … but neither burnt nor brown in colour.
C an you see just how ‘soft’ it is? And moist? Not a hint of rubber to this texture! Brava, well done Nonna Maria, brava!
P.S. The rest of the meal consisted of a tomato salad and a fresh-borlotti bean salad. A fully blown vegetarian meal all told …