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The coast is clear, Punxsutawney Phil, you can come out now. Spring has pounced on her pretty little legs right here in the Port City, and I have begrudgingly fired up the lawnmower for its 2019 debut. I’m hopeful the initial cloud of smoke pouring from its starboard side chokes the life out of all the weeds and stifles the growth of anything other than my centipede, and I even hope it slows that down.
It won’t be long until those blades of grass and blooming azalea bushes provide partial cover to whatever Peter Cottontail plans to hide. Why does it have to be eggs? It’s awful when the lost one turns up a month later, but I’m still glad it’s what the magic rabbit brings. We love eggs in this house.
I say we. Actually, Katie doesn’t enjoy hard-boiled eggs, including deviled. The only ones she eats are at The Noble South, and despite my copycat use of caviar, the MacDonald version doesn’t meet her standards. Does it hurt my feelings? No way. That means more for the rest of us.
If not deviled, I prefer my eggs in the morning, during a cooking ritual called over easy, while Lucas orders his over medium. Katie and Graham are kindred spirits with scrambled, but without a runny yolk, how can you coat your sausage and bacon with hot sauce?
As I write this we are in the very short weather phase of cool mornings and pleasant evenings, with nary a swarm of mosquitoes. That is the sure-fire way to get the Mobile brunch scene back to its vibrant self. Right now, I’d take all of my work outside if I could, but you can bet your bottom dollar I will be dining al fresco at some point this week, preferably for brunch.
Every brunch has to have some egg dish, and it’s restaurant suicide to not have some sort of signature Benedict, but I would much rather get my weekend morning protein from a frittata. What’s a frittata, you ask? Well, I guess you’d say it’s part omelet, part quiche, but not completely either. Omelets usually have the filling folded into the eggs, while in a frittata, you pour the eggs over the filling. Omelets are cooked on the stovetop and frittatas are finished in the oven. Quiche is like a frittata with a crust, and is cooked entirely in the oven.
The best part of frittata-making is that the filling could be anything. Search through your leftovers and find anything of interest. Start with vegetables and meats. Chopped pieces of steak, chicken or pork are great. You’d better have some onion in there. Bell pepper is really good in a frittata, especially red bells. Even tomatoes or spinach are good, provided you don’t cook them to death. But the best filling for a frittata has to be seafood.
I’m certain you have three or four lobster tails leftover from last night’s clam bake and shellfish barbecue. If not, grab a few shrimp on the way home, or lump crabmeat if you’re feeling really special. Leftover crawfish go great with this, but MAKE SURE YOU DEVEIN THEM. It’s fine if they are already cooked (chicken, steak and pork have to be), but anytime I use shrimp, I usually throw them in raw.
Choose the right skillet. First off, I’ll say I never use stainless steel for eggs. I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m just saying it’s more likely to stick. Nonstick pans are preferred; second place goes to a well-seasoned cast iron pan, and ceramic pans are okay. Whatever choice you make, make sure it has an oven-proof handle. We are going to blast this baby.
Finally, choose the right size. I like mine small enough so that the eggs and filling mixture will come halfway up to the depth of the skillet. My frittata pan is a smaller, spun aluminum pan with a nonstick coating and a long, metal handle made by All-Clad.
Leave an oven mitt or rag over the handle once you pull it from the oven. An unsuspecting passerby may grab it not knowing it’s almost book-burning temperature. Safety first, kids. And don’t forget your protective eyewear.
2 tablespoons butter
Splash of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ pound raw shrimp
Creole seasoning to taste
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup whole milk
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Whisk eggs, cream and milk in a bowl; set aside. In your heavy, preselected skillet we just talked about, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat, and thoroughly coat the pan. Add onions, cooking for two minutes, then add bell peppers. Cook another two minutes and add the garlic.
Season the shrimp with Creole seasoning and add them to the pan, shaking and tossing the skillet for one minute. Add the eggs and top with Parmesan cheese. Cook for about two minutes, then place the skillet in the oven and continue cooking until the eggs are set.
Remove the skillet from the oven and go around the edges with a butter knife to loosen the eggs from the sides. Carefully flip the frittata onto a platter, doing your best to not break it. Slice it into wedges and serve next to some amazing cheese grits.
A medium-roast coffee with heavy cream and a poinsettia should round out your brunch. Who needs an English muffin, anyway?
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