Today we go back to Italian-American cuisine, that oftimes misunderstood, sometimes terribly gone bad cuisine that is the evolution of Immigrant Italian’s cuisine with their new country, America. Let me first say that most of the offensive forms of Italian-American cuisine are created in the corporate board rooms and kitchens of large U.S. corporations. Red Bell Peppers are not part of a Sunday Tomato Sauce for pasta, here or in Italy. What seems to have happened is that a single ingredient that IS part of Italian cooking gets thrown into everything that a corporate type or misinformed American thinks SHOULD make a dish Italian. Like that completely un-Italian dried mess known as “ITALIAN SEASONING”. The ONLY thing ITALIAN about that mixture is the word ITALIAN on the label, after that, it’s an AMERICAN convenience food idea of what constitutes a mix of herbs used in Italian cuisine. Rarely will Italian cooking contain a mess of more than 2 herbs, and with the exception of dried Oregano, dried herbs are NOT used in Italian cooking. Dried Oregano yes, that’s authentically Italian, fresh is hardly ever used, it’s a more modern addition to recipes if you see it. Dried Rosemary, Basil (NEVER!), Tarragon, Savory, whatever else they blend together in those spice factories is not Italian. Rant over. It’s 2015, most people live near big supermarkets which carry fresh herbs, all the time. Seek them out rather than a dried mess in a very non-Italian blend. The number one way you produce outstanding dishes starts with the raw materials/ingredients. So speaking of ingredients this brings us to the point of this blog..POTATOES AND EGGS, a frittata, scrambled egg-ish mix of cooked fried potatoes, beaten eggs, with only a few other ingredients added. Traditionally this is tucked into a good Italian hero roll or Italian bread, or can be eaten on it’s own. It’s Italian-American comfort food. Clearly it’s the evolution of a simple frittata from Italy. The quality of this dish comes from the quality of the ingredients. Start with the best eggs you can find (at the risk of sounding like Ina Garten’s teleprompter). Eggs should not cost 1.87 @ dozen. Cage Free, Organic, these are some labels you should be looking for when purchasing eggs. Best? Farm fresh, but seriously expounding that notion is quite romantic but ridiculously impractical. If there’s a local farmers market where you can access those types of egg that’s perfect. So that’s living ina perfect world for buying your ingredients. Not practical though, so seek out what are the best in the market you are going to.
POTATOES AND EGGS, A FOOD OBSESSION’S VERSION
SERVES: 4 TIME: 20 MINUTES
2 PEELED AND DICED BAKING POTATOES,COOKED IN SALTED WATER TILL JUST ABOUT TENDER, DRAINED AND COOLED.
8 FRESH EGGS, CRACKED INTO A BOWL
GROUND BLACK PEPPER or PEPERONCINO
3 TBS. GRATED PECORINO ROMANO
2 TBS. GOOD OLIVE OIL
In a non stick frying pan heat 1 tbs. of the olive oil and pan fry the potatoes, sprinkling about 1/8 tsp of salt over the potatoes. Fry them until the are just light golden brown on both sides. While the potatoes are frying beat the eggs with the cheese and 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper or a pinch of Peperoncino NOT BOTH!!. Add additional tsp. of olive oil to the pan when the potatoes are done and swirl the new oil in the pan gently around. Now pour the egg mixture over the potatoes. When the sides have started to set leave the pan on medium heat and in 3minutes, with a rubber spatula, check the bottom of the eggs to see if they are not only set but lightly browned. Slide the eggs onto a plate, cooked side down. Then invert the plate over the pan and slide it back into the pan..cooked side up remember. Let this cook for no more than 3 minutes. If using a flameproof pan, you can run the eggs under a broiler for 2 minutes and skip the “inversion” process. When it’s done simply slide back onto the plate and cut in quarters to serve.
Did I just hear someone say…”What about the onions?””What about the peppers or mozzarella???””No herbs??” Here’s the deal. ALWAYS learn the basic version first. This is how it was done originally, then the bits and pieces from the fridge started to show up..maybe cooked onions, or peppers, or both.. (Peppers and Eggs is another distinct dish from the same school) bits of salami, mozzarella, scamorza, swiss, ricotta, oregano, parsley, zucchini, etc. all found there way into this delicious mix. Try the basic to start. Add it to some good Italian bread for an awesome sangwich. I sprinkle some Peperoncino and a little Pecorino over it..do that, or not..up to you. Simple. Basic. Italian. Try this out and tell me how you like it!!
In the lead picture I added some fresh picked oregano for color to make LA BELLA FIGURA for a nice shot. A little chopped fresh oregano is very tasty on this. Since I make this basic and with fridge additions as well, the day I decided to snap a shot of the dish, i had some cut onion in the fridge so it went into the potatoes and oil. I’ll leave that all up to you.
In my Italian-American household, potatoes and eggs were a staple while I was growing up, but they were made as a frittata. The interesting point is that I always thought this was a Neapolitan dish. It is, but it came to Naples from Spain during the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The Italian potato and egg frittata is a direct descendent of la tortilla Española, considered by many to be the national dish of Spain. I believe that is one reason why I have such a penchant for La Cocina Española today, as well as La Cucina Italiana.
how awesome! love that! and yes, i am a big fan of La Tortilla Espanola!! you would say though, that the average Italian American one is very “abstract”, or free form, or sometimes more uniform, ie: it’s made with the same ingredients but each household follows no strict form on it’s shape..
Perhaps, Peter, but that isn’t my experience. Ours was very similar to the Spanish tortilla, so much so, that when I first had it in Spain, I thought they had copied the Italians! 🙂 I would say that Italian peppers and eggs or other vegetables and eggs (but not a frittata) are very much like Spanish huevos revueltos or vice versa, but potatoes and eggs, at least in my family, very much in the form of a Spanish tortilla.
Amen! Spot on post regarding what Italian Food and cooking is truly about – I try and explain this over and over to people all the time….. LOVED it! Potatoes and eggs look yummy too 🙂 I am just writing a recipe on the same topic but with some mini red peppers (eeek – lol 🙂
appreciate you comments!! Brava!!
This is a family favorite and go-to. I told my dad that you posted this today and he got a kick out of it. I often make frittata to take to parties and gatherings, just add a bit of rosemary and people here say “Oh, delicious tortilla!” and I say “NO, it’s Italian frittata!
lol….don’t you find though that a tortilla is more dense? more, although not exact, like a dense quiche? love them too btw..a slice of that with potatoes in the mix..heaven.
Yes, I do, you are right! I love how I flavor mine too! Always a hit, I just served a tray last week for the community garden meeting.
now I want to make a tortilla..lol..but, chicken matzoh ball soup is up on the menu for tonight!
Whaaaaa! I just bought a fresh jar of “Italian” herbs. Guess I’ll have to find other dishes to use it in.
My grandmother use to make spinach and eggs. Was this an Italian dish?
Sure is. Zucchini and eggs. Peppers and eggs. Peas and eggs. Etc.
My mother was Italian-American, born in the USA, but her cooking tasted like she was a native of Sicily. If you gave her a dozen eggs and a refrigerator full of leftovers, she could make lunches for a week. Spinach and eggs, Kale and eggs, Hot Dogs and eggs…I could go on and on.
My in-laws were from Sicily. Grandma would make a dish with potatoes, hard boiled eggs, wide noodles and meatless sauce. And lots of parm! My guess is that it was a Lent or Friday meal. Is there a recipe for this out there? I can’t find it. Have been craving this comforting dish.
sounds like a Pasta Patan (pasta and potatoes dish) Sicilians are known for boosting the nutrition and stretching a dish by the addition of hard boiled eggs….generally these dishes are made with a saute’ of onions, fennel, sometimes a little alici, olive oil…then add some wine when the onions are soft, pepper, salt, and cooked diced potatoes…then toss in the al dente pasta and hard boiled egg and cook together for a little…then fnish with lots of caciocavallo or pecorino…black pepper, parsley…or sicilian oregano….lots of variations.
we always cooked many dishes with eggs. Never go hungry with eggs in house. Love potatoes and eggs, pepper and eggs, spinach and eggs, asparagus and eggs, zucchini and eggs, etc
my dad always said the same thing….”if you have eggs,non mai avete fammeta” you’re never hungry… grazie!!
Totally authentic. This was a staple of my Sicilian-American childhood. Thanks for the memories, and inspiration… I just made some! xx
Was also a staple in my Neapolitan home!!
Peter, I made this today, plain and simple for a change with a few thin slices of onion. How I want the Italian bread but I controlled myself and my waistline today! Delicious! Brought back many fond memories of my father and grandmother making this for lunch. I remember taking this to school while the other kids ate bologna and American cheese!
they ALL wanted our lunches!!! lol.
My 6 siblings and I had meatball sandwiches for lunch every Monday, since we had spaghetti and meatballs with a fresh salad and Italian bread for dinner every Sunday. I woke up this morning craving the potatoes and eggs which my Italian-American grandmother often made, and I am planning to make this recipe tonight, so thanks for posting! I will add green onion as she often did.