Frittatomelette – a hybrid

The spouse was especially fond of the omelette I made this morning, so I thought I would share the single detail that makes it different.

Americans often call a frittata an omelette. The difference is subtile, but important.

In a classical omelette, the egg mix is cooked almost to done, then filling is laid in the middle and the egg folded over it. In a frittata, the filling is placed into the frying pan and cooked some, then the egg mix is added, and when near the finished point, folded and served.

Over the years, I’ve played with both. Trying to work out what is best. Making a cheese frittata is an exercise in eggs that don’t set up right. Making a ham omelette means having cold ham with undercooked egg mix on the bits and lacking that browning that enhances the flavor. Just how can one make a decent Ham & Cheese omelette with that problem?

My solution is a hybrid. Place the ham bits in a lump of better in the skillet. Saute or fry them until browned just enough. Add the egg mix (couple of eggs beaten with a Tbs or two of milk) and let it cook to the almost all set stage (lowering the heat helps here so the bottom surface doesn’t overcook while the top layer is not cooked yet… at lower heat the whole depth warms more evenly). Just about the time it’s ready to set up on the top layer, at that gelatinous but still not set up stage, sprinkle on finely shredded cheese. I use the Mexican Taco Mix shreds. Fold, and finish (that for me, means let it sit just long enough for the folded flaps to stick, then turn the whole thing over to seal and finish.

For things like a Denver, I also fry the onion and peppers bits with the ham. Essentially, I make a frittata out of any bits that fry well, and an omelette with the bits that ought not be fried, like cheese and avocado and whatnot. The Frittatomelette.

With that, time to refill the coffee cup and admire the stormy weather with a hot cup a Joe and a full tummy ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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13 Responses to Frittatomelette – a hybrid

  1. philjourdan says:

    I love food, especially Omelets (or Frittatas)! So post away on secrets to good ones. I try to make mine without milk (my wife is lactose intolerant), so that requires more beating and more attention.

    That being said, I think you short changed butter.

    Place the ham bits in a lump of better in the skillet

    I am sure it is better, but butter makes it better. ;-)

  2. H.R. says:

    @phil – let the eggs warm to room temperature and use a tablespoon of water to whip them up. That’s the technique for hi-rise omelettes.

    @E.M. – Glad you’re catching up ;o) I already had Denver frittatas, prepared as you described, this week. I keep 1/4 – 3/8″ diced peppers and onions in a baggie with a paper towel at hand for salad toppings, cooking with sausages, or for frittatas. If omelettes are on the menu, I lightly saute the ham, peppers, and onions in another pan.

  3. John Robertson says:

    Tomato Tomat-ta.
    Your Frittatomelete is the only way I have made omelettes.
    thanks for the explanation, I always wondered why restaurant ommletes lacked a certain something.

  4. andysaurus says:

    I’m never sure if things are the same here in Aus as they are in the US, but my favourite omelette is probably a frittata according to your principles E.M.
    I start by cooking bits of bacon – two rashers snipped into pieces with the kitchen scissors. I add a couple of large (or more button) mushrooms sliced about 2mm. Soon after I add quite a lot of butter because the mushrooms are thirsty. When they are soft I pour in the beaten 2 or 3 eggs. I add nothing to the egg and reduce the heat. As soon as that is in I grate cheddar cheese on top. When the cheese starts to melt the egg is mostly cooked. Fold and serve. For a real complete meal I add chopped bok choy before the egg. It wilts in seconds and adds a crisp freshness to the mix.
    We have our own chickens so our eggs are superb – orange yolks that keep their shape. The colour stays in the finished product.
    I have heard you can’t get sharp tasty cheddar in the US and I have no words of comfort to console you for your loss.

  5. John Michalski says:

    My wife’s version of the frittata adds a third dimension: crust. Stir fry onion, peppers, sausage (and whatever floats your boat on seasoning) in a cast iron skillet. Remove them from pan, add butter. Toast bread then form to skillet like a pie crust, soaking up the butter and oil and bits from stir fry. Flip over toast. Add a layer of cheese to toast. Mix stir fry with eggs, add to top of toast and cheese. Cover with cheese, place sliced Roma tomatoes on top and put in 400F oven and bake until eggs are firm and cheese bubbling.

    I think I’ve talked myself into having this for dinner tonight!

  6. Gail Combs says:

    I saute ham or sausage or fry bacon. Set aside. Then saute onions, green peppers, mushrooms….
    I then make up packets of the mix sized for an omelette and squash flat. These are put into the freezer. (I like to do this in the summer with fresh farm grown veggies)

    When I want an omelette I pull out a packet and thaw it. I use a bit of milk in scrambling the eggs. Place butter in a heated pan, add eggs, when the eggs have just solidified on 1/2 of the omelette, add warmed packet ingredients, sprinkle with shredded cheese. Flip the other 1/2 over the top, partially cover with a top until the cheese melts and starts leaking out.

    Using shredded cheese and warmed ingredients keeps from having the bottom of the omelette burnt.

  7. John F. Hultquist says:

    @ andysaurus 9:43
    I have heard you can’t get sharp tasty cheddar in the US ..

    If at a common restaurant the cheddar will be new and mellow. However, there are many great cheese vendors of both local and imported types. Most larger grocery stores offer an aged sharp cheddar at about 20% more per pound than the regular.
    In Washington State, the “ag” school trains students in the fine art of cheese making and sells the product. WSU folks are called Cougars and the most famous (of about a dozen) cheese is call Cougar Gold.
    http://cougarcheese.wsu.edu/DirectionsWEB/webcart_itemBuy.php?itemid=100

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @PhilJourdan:

    OK, OK… wake up, make breakfast, drink SECOND cup of coffee (find glasses) THEN post…

    8-)

    &H.R.:

    The spouse drinks Rice Milk, and I’ve used it, or just water, as the “blowing agent” to thin and fluff the eggs. Seems like any water source works. I’ve also used nothing but eggs and that works too, but a more solid effect (less like egg foam…).

    The problem I used to have (years ago before working this out) is that the cheese melts and mixes with the egg before it sets up, then it won’t set and stays goey unless you effectively burn it. So a cheese fritatta just doesn’t work, it must be an omelet. Then ham chunks aren’t right if not fried… so you either use 2 pans, frying ham and onions separately from the omlete, or have it unfried… Eventually I worked out the fry, fritatta, cheese and fold. That gives nice just past custard eggs, creamy cheese center, and nicely sautéed or fried ham and onions…

    @John,

    Sad to say, but I only learned the definition of fritatta and the proper definition of omelette, in the last 5 or so years. Before that, any fried egg solid with stuff in it was just “omelette”. We made them sometimes as fritattas sometimes as omelettes depending on whim. Having the proper names brings with it the clear division of processes and results. That helped my results significantly. Chefs are taught that stuff, but I am just a cook….

    @Andysaurus:

    Looks like the USA and Ausralia share a common not quite right definition of “omelette” (which I spelled as omlet, omelet, or omlett at various times.. hey, it was French, so who cares ;’)

    Oh so slowly, the USA is learning that fritattas exist as a distinct thing and that the French hasve picky ideas about what is a proper omelette… but in most low end to middle scale restaurants, ordering an omelette can get you either, but usually a fritatta…

    Oh, and as noted above : These are not MY principles, the come from the French and Italians; though the Wiki implies ongoing change and is even pickier about what is a fritatta…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frittata

    History

    The Italian word frittata derives from friggere and roughly means fried. This was originally a general term for cooking eggs in a skillet, anywhere on the spectrum from fried egg, through conventional omelette, to an Italian version of the Spanish tortilla de patatas, made with fried potato. Outside Italy, frittata was seen as equivalent to “omelette” until at least the mid-1950s.

    In the last fifty years, “frittata” has become a term for a distinct variation that Delia Smith describes as “Italy’s version of an open-face omelette”. When used in this sense, there are four key differences from a conventional omelette:

    There is always at least one optional ingredient in a frittata, and such ingredients are combined with the beaten egg mixture while the eggs are still raw rather than being laid over the mostly cooked egg mixture before it is folded, as in a conventional omelette.

    Eggs for frittata may be beaten vigorously, to incorporate more air than traditional savory omelettes, to allow a deeper filling and a fluffier result.

    The mixture is cooked over a very low heat, more slowly than an omelette, for at least five minutes, typically 15, until the underside is set but the top is still runny.

    The partly cooked frittata is not folded to enclose its contents, like an omelette, but it is instead either turned over in full, or grilled briefly under an intense salamander to set the top layer,or baked for around five minutes.

    It was reading that kind of thing some while back that had the lightbulb go on that what I do in NOT a fritatta (not always flipped, though I have done that sometimes) yet not folded over ingredients NOT in the egg mix. I’m half and half.. thus fritattomlette… Usually folded like an omelette, but with things fried into the eggs… but some things folded into the middle…

    That the definition of both have changed over my 60+ years of cooking lets me know it wasn’t just me not being precise…

    Your omlette sounds delicious! I’ll have to try that some morning!

    BTW, we can get just about any cheese from everywhere on the planet. Cheddar so sharp you can cut a steak with it, if you like. Just most Americans prefer mild cheddar (Monterey Jack near tasteless white is the biggest seller, IIRC). So you have to look for the stong stuff in upscale grocers or at liquor megamarts and wine shops. There is an ok “sharp” cheddar in most grocery stores. Whole Foods has a large cheese shop inside too. I like it, but the spouse can’t have it (migraine trigger) so I get Colby and Jack a lot… though sneek in some cheddar sometimes (a particularly nice but horridly expensive goat cheddar :-) talk about sharp flavor!

    @John:

    Oh yum! Sounds like a toast based fritattaquiche to me…

    @Gail:

    Nice idea… though I still need that bigger freezer…

  9. Gail Combs says:

    “Monterey Jack near tasteless white…”

    Monty-jack (and swiss and mild cheddar and havarti) are fine ‘as is’ finger food esp. for car finger food.

    Very sharp cheddar is better as an added ingredient to a dish or on crackers.

    “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” ~ Charles de Gaulle

  10. andysaurus says:

    @E.M. thanks for your extended response. I wasn’t getting at you, I only meant the principles as reported by you. I love more precision in my language. I also stand corrected regarding cheese. We also get Colby, Tasty, and Mature Cheddars.

    There isn’t much cheese I don’t like. My father bought two complete Stilton wheels once. He ate one and when he took the other out of the tin in which it was kept, it was inedible. He put it in the garden for the birds and we didn’t see any for 6 months!

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    @Andysaurus,

    Nor did I think you were… just pointing out that the definitions of both fritatta and omelette have changed over the last 50 years from “fried egg mix of stuff” into 2 divergent things… and I had nothing to do with it… well, other than eating alot of it ;-)

    Unfortunately, your observation on cheese is accurate for much of the American Culinary Wasteland… after all, there are people here who think velvita from a squirt can is cheese… but with a bit of effort, all kinds of goodies are hidden where they won’t find it ….

    I once put out some Cockatiel mix for the squirrels only to discover it had dried hot peppers in it and they were repulsed…

  12. gallopingcamel says:

    For the last 60 years I made tens of thousands of omelets. Now you tell me that they were all “Fritattas”.

    One learns something every day but nothing will change here.

  13. Graeme No.3 says:

    WARNING This will send blood pressures soaring!
    In Australia we have Coon cheese, named after Edward Coon who invented the production process. Most americans are horrified when they see the name.
    It is basically a matured cheddar.

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