In this column, Scout contributor and food enthusiast Maciel Pereda shares her personal recipes aimed at solving everyday cooking conundrums. Possibilities are endless, ingredients are local, and cravings are always respected. Today Maciel shares a seasonal recipe that does justice to one humble yet hearty springtime ingredient: chives!
If you are a gardener currently residing in the Lower Mainland, I feel your pain! The frustration of not yet sensing the rejuvenating powers of spring because of how untenably cold and wet it has been for some of the seedlings who usually thrive by May is wildly uninspiring. I suppose I shall continue to lug my cucumber and tomato plant babies inside every night for their slumber, like the fragile-Victorian-children-on-the-cusp-of-succumbing-to-consumption that this season is forcing them to become. In the meantime, at least I can rely on the perennial stalwart who always, weather-regardless, has my back without fail, come every year: chives (and plenty of them).
My chives originally came from a stranger’s particularly feral alley-side patch, of which a large clump was gifted to me, rather unceremoniously, in a plastic grocery bag. They have since spread out over three separate large pots in my container garden, each spring coming back with a vengeance more robust than the year prior. Not wanting to relegate my faithfully rambunctious chives to the realm of being a culinary afterthought, I have a predilection for holding onto recipes that centre these flavourful alliums (onion fam) instead of merely including them as an optional garnish.
The original recipe which brought forth this frittata had nothing to do with chives and everything to do with ramps (a type of wild leek). Since ramps are in season for a literal eye blink’s worth of time, I long ago adapted by changing up the allium. This frittata shines with basically anything that’s fresh, green, and onion-y (scallions and garlic scapes also work), but I’m wildly partial to chives because of the whole sour-cream-and-onion-chips flavour profile it brings. The potatoes are crispy and mashed at the same time, forming a crust under which the creamy-dreamy, cheesy-chivey eggs have set. You might think me indecent for proposing it as an appropriate serving size for as few as two people; but eat your first slice then look me in the eye and say with certainty that you couldn’t ever get close to eating one half of it. I won’t believe you.
Chive + Potato Frittata
This recipe borrows heavily from baker, food stylist, educator and cookbook author, Erin Jeanne McDowell’s ‘Smashed Potato & Ramp Frittata’. You will need a skillet that you feel good about cooking egg-based things in AND that can handle going in the oven. The skillet should be somewhere between 8-10 inches in diameter, with the smaller size yielding a taller, thicker frittata and the larger size producing a thinner version like that pictured.
Makes one frittata (feeds 2-4 people, depending on what else is being served)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
~1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced ~¼-inch-thick
~¾ cup chopped fresh chives
8 large eggs
¼ cup Boursin cheese, herb + garlic flavour
½ cup grated aged white cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with rack in centre. Heat oil and butter in an oven-safe skillet over medium. Add in the potato slices and settle them into a very rough single layer. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let cook, undisturbed, for about five minutes before flipping. Season generously with salt and pepper. Keep repeating the pattern of spreading into a rough single layer, cooking for a few minutes, then flipping and re-settling until you get to the point where the potatoes are pretty soft on the insides, with brown crispy patches on the outsides – likely they’ll be falling apart all over the place by then. It’s going to seem counterintuitive (perhaps even wrong), but you need to coarsely mash the potatoes with a fork or stirring utensil. The idea is to get a good mix of ‘soft and crunchy’ throughout – no uniformity! Add the chives, mixing in with the potatoes and sauteeing for less than a minute, until just softened and fragrant. Spread the potato-chive mixture into a “crust” base layer along the bottom of the skillet, pressing it in as best you can with a spoon or spatula. Try to avoid any huge pits or gaps, while abandoning perfectionism.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs for a full minute. They should be frothy and well-mixed. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Pour the eggs over the potato base and let sit undisturbed for approximately three minutes over medium heat. Lift the sides with a rubber spatula and tilt the pan to let some of the runny top settle underneath. Keep repeating and cooking until the eggs are about one-third of the way set. Sprinkle the Boursin and cheddar evenly over the eggs, then pop the skillet into the oven and bake for roughly 10 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Broil for the last minute or two, if desired.
Let rest for five minutes, then slice into wedges and serve immediately. This goes especially well with sausages and toast at brunch time, or salad and bread at dinner. Enjoy!
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