Frittata -- what went wrong?
- Ruth Lafler Mar 3, 2008 08:32 AM
I made a frittata last night. I followed the recipe closely: put the frittata mixture in a hot skillet and cooked for 4 minutes until the bottom was completely set, then put it under the broiler for 4 minutes until the top was well-browned. If I'd left it in any longer it would have burned (it was already pretty dark), but after I inverted it onto a plate and cut into it, it was still runny inside. I ended up putting it in the microwave for a few minutes to finish cooking, since I didn't want it to brown any more.
Any ideas what went wrong? Should I have let it rest for a while? Or was this just a flawed recipe? It tasted great and my guest loved it, but it's not appetizing to cut into something and have uncooked egg oozing out!
I cook it on a lower heat, and make it almost like an omelette where you gently lift the cooked part of the egg so the runny part falls below on the pan and cooks. When it's almost done, I put it in the oven under the broiler (or sometimes just bake).
I'm guessing it was too thick, that is too much batter for the pan area. So either use a larger pan, split the batter among several pans (on one after the other).
Another option is to cook it at a lower temperature. Spanish recipes for tortillas might give some hints, since their style is often thicker.
Wet fillings could also be a problem. For example if you used raw zucchini or mushrooms. Cold eggs and fillings will also require longer cooking.
Did you just dump the eggs into the pan and leave them there until the bottom set? Stirring with a silicone spatula until curds just start to form will get the heat more evenly distributed. Also, letting it sit (and set) in the pan for a minute or two after removing from the oven will result in a better-cooked middle.
Agreed re: stirring until curds form.
The way I learned it (from America's Test Kitchen, actually) was to be sure the ingredients are cooked so their water is out (if using anything like zucchini or what have you). Cook shallot or other aromatic first, then add the beaten eggs with herbs and cheese stirred in already. (They recommended cubing the cheese instead of grating it and I must say that this greatly improved my frittata results.) Then stirring with a spatular for about 3 mintues. Then leaving for about 1 minute to let the bottom set. Put in oven or under broiler for 4 minutes. Remove and let stand to finish cooking/setting for 5 minutes. Then turn out of pan.
DH and I have been using this method for a few months now with remarkably improved results.
The actual technique for this recipe was to cook all the veggies and aromatics first, tranfer to a bowl and add beaten eggs and cheese; wipe out pan, heat more oil until hot, add the frittata mixture, and then cook as described above. I was reluctant to stir, since it was going to be inverted and I wanted a nice crust. I think it would have worked out fine if I'd lowered the heat at the stove-top stage and let it cook longer, but it was starting to get very brown around the edges and it had been on the stove as long as the recipe said, so I went ahead and transferred it to the oven. Fortunately, one thing microwaves are really good at is firming up eggy/custardy dishes -- I just stuck it in on the serving platter and it worked out fine.
I think the suggestion to let it stand in the pan is a good one -- if I'd done that it might have finished cooking without any more help.
re: Ruth Lafler
Ruth, I make frittatas all the time. I think four minutes to cook the bottom is too short. I'd kick the heat down a few notches and increase the cooking time to eight or nine minutes. I've seen people stir the eggs in the pan, but I never do, and mine turn out light and fluffy. I then broil for five or six minutes, depending on the ingredients, as some things brown up more quickly.
I don't like to let them rest too long afterwards, as they lose some of the fluffiness.
They're really good baked into muffin tins, too. They're easy to transport and are tasty at room temp.
I concur with the "baking" theory.....start it in the pan on the stove (I don't stir).....stick in the oven to bake and finish off with a broiler to get it to puff up! I think I've mastered them using this method - regardless of which pan I use...but I try to use a non-stick skillet and cover the handle for the oven part. Good luck next time....
Another thought on the subject - I think that, traditionally, a frittata is not supposed to get brown (though of course one can do whatever one wants to!). Marcella's instruction say to remove the frittata from the broiler as soon as the "face sets" but before it becomes browned. She suggests cooking it on very low heat, after letting the butter melt on medicum heat, until the eggs have set and thickened and "only the surface is runny". Then put under the broiler for a few seconds.
FWIW - her oven method is 350 degrees at 15 minutes.
I make frittatas the way you described: cook veggies, remove and mix with eggs and cheese, wipe out pan, add egg mixture back to pan. To lightly toast the bottom and evenly cook the frittata through, I use this method I learned for making Spanish tortillas:
Heat some oil in the pan to medium high before your pour the egg mixture in. After you pour the eggs in, immediately turn the heat to medium low, then shake the handle of the pan with quick short motions for about twenty seconds. The vibrations allow the bottom of the frittata to brown a little at the high temperature without sticking.
Cook on low or medium low until the edges are set, the frittata can shift in the pan in one piece, and the top is runny.
At this point the whole thing should easily slide out of the pan in one piece -- slide it onto a plate, turn the heat back up to medium high, wait until the pan heats up again, then carefully set the half-cooked frittata back into the pan face side down (I flip mine off the plate right into the pan, but many people like to hold another plate over the top of the frittata, flip the frittata between the two plates, then slide it gently back into the pan). Immediately turn the heat down and shake the pan again. Cook on low or medium low for another couple minutes, after which the frittata should be totally done (and pleasantly golden on both sides).
Alternatively, finish the frittata off in the broiler (nice when you want to top it with some thin tomato slices and shredded cheese).
It sounds like it cooked too fast in the oven under the broiler.
I cook frittatas a lot for breakfast. I cook my vegetables in the pan but do not remove them to add the eggs. I just add eggs, stir, cook until the bottom is set and I have been sliding my pan into my toaster oven to finish. The toaster oven heats faster than the oven, doesn't heat the entire kitchen and as long as my pan will fit does the job to perfection. Usually when the top begins to puff and there is a little browning, not too much as I really don't like browned eggs I pull it. I have never had a runny one yet. I don't time it, just go by looks and feel. I should also add that I don't make super thick frittatas. I want the balance of vegetables to eggs to be somewhat equal.