Thursday, April 3, 2014

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Frittata 2.0


The good news is that the “Brussels Sprouts, Bacon and Gruyere Frittata” featured in the January 2014 issue of Food & Wine is quite tasty.  The not-so-good news is that the recipe could use several tweakings to produce this quite tasty frittata.

On Wednesday night, I decided to take advantage of the fact that we had some Brussels sprouts and bacon around by making the frittata that looked so good in the magazine.   Click here for the recipe and you can follow along with the many adjustments I had to make.

Don't we want to drain the bacon fat?
Step 1 of the recipe has you cook ½ lb of thick-cut bacon for 3-5 minutes “until softened.”  Then you are supposed to add the shallots.  And then you add sliced ¾ lb Brussels sprouts.  I looked ALL OVER the recipe and could not find the suggestion to drain the rendered bacon fat.  Now I love bacon as much as the next person—even on chocolate glazed donuts and in maple ice cream—but ½ lb produces a LOT of bacon grease.  I would suggest draining all but 1-2 tablespoon of fat to sauté the shallots and Brussels sprouts with.


Do we need so much salt?
So we already have ½ lb of bacon fried up.  Then you sauté shallots and then the Brussels sprouts.  At that point, we are told to “season with salt and pepper.”  I was pondering just how much salt I would need for Brussels sprouts when there was so much bacon—and thus salt.  But I was shocked when Step 2 called for mixing 8 eggs with “1 teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.”  Seriously?  Who needs to season 8 eggs with 1 teaspoon of salt, especially when the Brussels sprouts are salted and on top of ½ lb crisp bacon?  I would not use any more than half that amount!  In any case, the sauté mixture is quite tasty at this point and you can just stop cooking here if you wanted a nice side dish.  (See photo above.)

Eggs and Cheese
This is probably not the recipe’s fault, but my 8 eggs turned out not to be enough.  Possibly because my organic free-range eggs are smaller, but 8 eggs yielded a fairly thin frittata, not like what’s pictured in the magazine.  My finished product looked more like a savory pancake (pictured at top and bottom of the post) while the picture in the magazine made the frittata appear more quiche-like, filling the entire pan.  When I poured in the egg mixture, it didn't even cover the bottom of the 12-inch skillet I was supposed to use. 

And while I love Gruyere—and really most any kind of cheese—I’m not sure that we needed 1 cup of shredded Gruyere on top of ½ lb of bacon and 8 eggs.  Besides which, I like being able to really taste my cheese.  In this recipe, the strong flavors of bacon, shallots, and Brussels sprouts caused the more subtle taste of the cheese to be overwhelmed.  Other than to bind the eggs, it’s not clear that we needed ANY cheese. 


Cooking the Frittata
The recipe has you “pour the egg mixture into the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring gently, until the eggs start to set and the bottom is lightly browned.”  I’m not sure I recommend “stirring” any frittata—gently or otherwise.  If we’re going to do that, we might as well skip the cheese (and you might skip the cheese anyway) and just scramble the eggs with the mixture.  I would, if anything, take a spatula and gently turn over sections of brown-bottomed frittata one small section at a time (see photo above) until the entire frittata has been turned once.   Then I’d slide it under the broiler. 


The recipe makes a nice brunch (with some fruit and yogurt and a roll), lunch (slid inside a toasted baguette as a sandwich), or dinner (with a side salad).  But I’d follow recommendations I made here to make sure that you’re not left with a greasy, salty, scrambled cholesterol bomb.


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