Frittatas are wonderful food for any meal of the day! A frittata is an Italian scrambled egg dish similar to an omelet, except that it is not folded over. Rather, a frittata is traditionally flipped over by inverting it onto a plate and slipping it back into the pan. Alternately, a frittata can be finished by placing it under the broiler for a minute or so. Frittatas can have every variety of internal garnish, including meats, vegetables, potatoes, cheeses, herbs, spices, and more. Often served cold, frittatas are versatile and delicious!
Even though a frittata is much easier to make than an omelet, flipping the partly cooked frittata can be a bit of a challenge. After all, part of the joy of this sort of food is the sight of perfectly formed wedges on a warmed serving plate. True, a bunch of broken bits tastes about the same, but the experience isn’t as rewarding. Finishing under the broiler works, but can easily overcook the top of the frittata.
The purpose of a frittata pan is to make the process of flipping the frittata foolproof, or nearly so. A pair of frying pans is connected together so that one is on top of the other. The frittata mixture is placed inside the lower pan, and is then cooked on the stovetop until the bottom of the frittata sets. You then flip the pans so that the frittata falls into the upper pan, and continue cooking until the frittata is properly cooked throughout.
There are two basic types of frittata pan, hinged and interconnecting. The hinged pans have the disadvantage that two pans are dedicated to a single cooking task, and basically can’t be used for anything else. However, hinged pans have the advantage that the matching pans can’t be misplaced! Interconnecting pans come apart for use as regular fry pans, but they must be gently used. Frittata pans do not have to have non-stick coatings, but it is probably a good idea. Readily available in 8 and 10 inch sizes, the smaller makes brunch for a family of four, while the larger will solve the hunger pangs of 8-10 people.
Using a frittata pan is rather straightforward. The frittata mixture is prepared and placed in the lower pan. (The lower pan is usually a bit larger than the upper pan, so that the frittata will fall properly into the upper pan on flipping the pans.) A useful hint is that warming the eggs in warm water prepares better frittatas than using eggs right out of the refrigerator.
There is some controversy about preheating the pans. There are good cooks on both sides of this question, but probably the predominant position is that preheating, while not necessary, is a good idea, leading to an even creamy texture throughout the frittata.
At the right moment, the pans are flipped over and placed back on the heating element. How long the frittata must cook on each side depends on many factors, such as the heat of the burner, how much the basic egg mixture is diluted with milk or cream, what sort of goodies are put inside, the desired texture, and so on. Each cook will have a different routine to cook the frittata properly, but in the end the pans are separated, the frittata is released from the upper pan, and appetites are satisfied.