Herb Fritattas, fluffy and light, are remarkably versatile and when hens in the valley are producing at their height and the farmers market is chugging along, we often find four dozen (or more!) eggs in the kitchen each week. And, as the season progresses, that number dwindles until the darkest days of winter when we’ve no eggs at all. We don’t often think of animal foods as seasonal, but they are. Fresh cream has a season. Milk has season. Beef and lamb and even chicken have a season too. And, of course, eggs. In 24-7 supermarkets, where animal foods from industrial farms are available every hour of every season, it’s easy to lose touch with the true seasonality of the foods we eat much in the same way its easy to lose touch with just how those foods were produced.
In our home, we rely on farm-fresh ingredients and with good reason. Animals raised on pasture, as opposed to industrial farms, experience a more natural life with free access to the foods rich in nutrients such as bugs, grubs and sprouts for egg-laying hens or fresh green grass for milk cows. Clean air, clean water and clean food provides more than a humane existence for these animals; it also ensures that the meat, milks and eggs they provide us are richer in nutrients – particularly vitamin A, conjugated linoleic acid in milk products and a more favorable omega-3 : omega-6 fatty acid ratio. For this reason, I encourage you to source your ingredients directly from farms who uphold these time-honored traditions and operate through a holistic approach including pasture- and grass-based ranching.
A few weeks ago we visited the farm that produces many of our eggs, saw the hens pecking at grubs and bugs among the tall, green pasture grasses. The farm takes an intensive, holistic approach to raising their animals and producing their foods. And it is this approach – that begins with the soil and the grasses – that yields some of the most nutrient-dense and most richly flavored meats and eggs. So when eggs are in season, we use them liberally – and never shy away from these herb fritattas which require one dozen fresh from the pasture. Custards and omelets also find their way to our table.
Herb fritattas are remarkable. Remarkably simple to prepare and requiring only the simplest of ingredients – eggs, butter, fresh herbs and a touch of cream – it’s imperative to use the best quality ingredients you can afford for the dish. Good quality ingredients yield better flavor and where there’s flavor and color, there’s nutrients. And even including the price of fresh herbs, fresh pasture-raised eggs and fresh cream, an herb fritatta is an inexpensive dish – hovering at about $1.25 per serving. Unlike omelets where eggs are barely beaten, it’s important to whisk the eggs together thoroughly to produce a light, fluffy and tender fritatta. Use any fresh herbs you have available and in season – my preference is for chives, parsley and dill.
- 3 to 4 tbsp clarified butter or ghee
- 1 dozen eggs
- 3 tbsp fresh cream, (not ultra-pasteurized)
- 1½ cups tightly packed fresh herbs, (parsley, chives, chervil, dill etc., minced)
- additional fresh herbs, (to garnish)
- In a 12-inch oven-proof skillet, preferably cast iron or enameled cast iron, heat three to four tablespoons clarified butter over a medium flame until melted.
- While the butter is melting, crack one dozen eggs and whisk them vigorously to incorporate a bit of air.
- Once the eggs are sufficiently beaten, smooth and creamy with no separation of white and yolk, whisk in three tablespoons cream and minced herbs.
- Pour the mixture of eggs, cream and herbs into the melted fat in the hot skillet.
- Shake the pan gently as the eggs set to minimize sticking or gently press the egg away from the sides of the skillet to allow the uncooked mixture of egg to seep through to the sides of the skillet and set.
- Allow the egg, herb and cream mixture to cook over a medium or medium-low flame for about five to six minutes, or until the the mixture firms up.
- Once the mixture is thick and firm but for a bit of uncooked egg on the top of the fritatta, place it in your oven under the broiler for four to six minutes.
- Remove from the oven, either plating the frittata or serving it directly in the skillet. Garnish with additional fresh herbs, as desired.