Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Last Night's Dinner: Mexican-ish Frittata & HotHot Salsa

Last night I got home from class around 8:45 feeling the way I often do after class: Exhausted, starving, and very tempted to order a pizza. But thankfully I had lined up an easy (though admittedly not as quick as I would like) dinner. I could lament that I was too tired to remember to add the can of diced tomato with green chilies to the frittata, but there would be no point. I think it turned out better the "mistake" way. And anyway, I'm not sure there would have been room!

As much as I am irked by the task of defrosting and (endlessly) straining frozen spinach, I do think it makes a great addition to frittatas. Last night, the concoction included:

1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
About a 1/3 cup of zucchini, chopped (it had to be used for something)
10 oz package chopped frozen spinach, thawed and strained. Endlessly.
6 eggs, beaten, with a little water added for fluff and beaten some more
3.5 oz package (two small sausages) of chorizo
Small handful of shredded "Mexican" cheese

In a 10 inch round cast iron pan (or you can use any oven-proof pan) over low heat, I lightly caramelized the onion in olive oil, about two or three turns of the pan worth. Then I added green pepper, zucchini and garlic, and cooked the veggies until they were just barely tender.

Then I added the chorizo to the pan, to cook for another two or three minutes. This is probably around the time that I preheated the oven to 400 degrees.

I find it is easiest to mix the spinach with the egg before adding the egg to the pan. I'm not sure if this is "right," but it works! You just have to work kind of quickly here: Add the egg to the pan, sprinkle in the cheese, and combine to be sure that the cheese, vegetables and spinach are distributed evenly throughout the frittata. 
This is around the time I realized I forgot about the tomato and chilies.

Then I thought, it's basically salsa already, why not heat it up and reduce it a bit, and have it be a spicyhot-temperaturehot* sauce. Obviously I couldn't resist adding some Sriracha, also. Honestly I wasn't sure, but it turned out to be a good idea! A nice balance of tomato and spicyness brought out the slight heat of the chorizo in the frittata but didn't overwhelm the other flavors. I might actually do this on purpose next time.

The actual cooking of the frittata remains somewhat of a mystery to me, in that I seem to do it differently every time. Generally, though, I leave it on the stove over low heat (so the bottom doesn't burn) for about 5 to 10 minutes, then stick it in the oven until it passes the "run" test. That is, it is done when tipping the pan does not cause an avalanche of goop and runny egg matter. (Sounds delicious, right!?). This usually takes about 10 minutes. Personally I find there to be something remarkably disgusting about even slightly overcooked eggs, so I watch it pretty closely.

A nifty thing about many dutch ovens, like the Lodge one that I have, is that the lid can be used as a shallow pan, which is what I used for this dish. It is also great for baking, although my one brush with Pineapple Upside Down Cake was a sticky-sweet disaster. Still, it's a useful thing to have on hand, and I find that I use it much more than I expected I would. Just note that the first few times you cook eggs in it, they will stick no matter what you do, even if it claims to be "seasoned" already. No pain no gain!

A note about cast iron in general: If you own it, don't make yourself crazy reading every article you can find about how to "season" your pans, like I did. The rules are simple. Remove crusty stuff with a metal spatula, DO NOT use dish soap, wipe clean with a lightly-oiled cloth (vegetable oil or, disgustingly, lard is best), and set it over medium/low heat for a few minutes after use. Sometimes a little oil in the pain over medium heat is necessary to dislodge all the crusty bits. If you ABSOLUTELY MUST use dish soap for some reason, stick it on the stove over low heat for 10 minutes to make sure it is completely dry. If you put cast iron in a dishwasher... Just don't do it. The Gods will cry, and so will I.

*My Italian grandmother was famous for the funny way she said "spicyhot!," which my mercilessly hilarious brother used to get her to say at every opportunity. A holiday meal wasn't complete without it.

Quote of the Day: "Love and eggs are best when they are fresh." ~ Russian proverb


  1. I am not a fan of Chorizo, but this sounds amazing!

  2. That's the great thing about these... You can put in whatever you like :-)