For much of high school and college, I dreamed of living in the country. A little house, a big piece of land, a farm even, maybe some chickens. The summer after I graduated from college, I researched for the Let’s Go: USA travel guide in the Great Plains region. My editor thought I was nuts for being excited to drive the flat roads of Nebraska and the Dakotas, up to Minnesota and east to Iowa, but I loved the epic farmland, the forests, and the small towns.
So I find it strange that of my three sisters, I’m the only city dweller. Kate lives in rural Arkansas. Jill moved to central Pennsylvania.
But country mice can’t resist the city, and a few weekends ago, Jill paid a visit to Brooklyn for some sidewalk grit, subway screeching, and hip shopping for clothes to fill her huge country closets. On Sunday, I made brunch for her and some friends. I wanted a feast that was hearty but not unhealthful, and for which I could do most of the work in advance, since I really hate being relegated to the kitchen when friends are hanging out in my living room.
I’m sharing the recipe for this easy, prep-ahead sweet potato and caramelized onion frittata today, and I figured I’d share the menu while I’m at it, since menu planning is always more of a puzzle than cooking any one particular dish. With holiday parties and Christmas breakfasts approaching, you might want to steal this easy brunch completely – it’s a winner.
For ten people, there were two of these frittatas. I served a whole lot of bacon. (Two packs, which I baked on parchment-lined sheets in a 400°F oven that morning.) A loaf of pumpkin bread (without chocolate and with this crisp topping) that I made the afternoon before. And a platter of Fuji apples, cut into eighths, for snacking. I also made a pitcher of iced hibiscus tea (so pretty!), but sort of failed on the coffee front, since my French press only makes three cups at once.
Happily, though, between the bacon and the apples, city mice and country mice and wanna-be country mice were full and content.
Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Frittata
I like to use two different colored sweet potatoes, just for the hell of it. You can make both the sweet potatoes and the caramelized onions ahead of time – up to 2 days before – and I encourage you to do so, because then the frittata will come together really quickly when it’s actually time to eat. In addition, the frittata can be served warm or at room temperature. I aim to take the frittata out of the oven around when guests arrive. After we’ve had coffee and chatted, it’s the perfect temperature to cut and serve. I serve straight from the pans.
Last, the prepwork for this recipe is easily doubled if you’re serving a crowd. You’ll need a second frying pan for cooking frittata #2.
1 large Vidalia onion
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Freshly ground pepper
2 sweet potatoes
12 large eggs
freshly ground pepper
3 ounces sharp white cheddar – or your favorite melting cheese – grated
First, make the caramelized onions. Film a heavy pan with olive oil and set over a medium flame. Add the onions and cook, stirring very infrequently, until they sizzle and being to soften. Turn the flame to low, add 1 sprig of rosemary, and allow the onions to slowly cook, caramelizing as they go. During this time, it is important to make sure the onions are spread as evenly as possible across the pan. Every 10 minutes or so, scrape the bottom and redistribute the onions so each gains the maximum amount of surface area. The intention is to slowly cook the onions so they sweeten in their own juices. If you stir too often, the onions will turn to mush. This process takes about 40 to 50 minutes. At the end, sprinkle the onions with salt and remove the rosemary sprig. If making ahead of time, cool to room temp then store in the fridge.
While the onions are cooking, roast the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Peel the potatoes and trim the ends. Cut them in half lengthwise, then slice into half moons about 1/3-inch thick. Toss in a bowl with 2-3 teaspoons olive oil and a big pinch of salt, then arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until they are easily pierced with a knife and just starting to brown. (For sweet potato fries, I usually roast longer, but you don’t want the potatoes to fall apart in the frittata.) If making in advance, cool to room temp, then store in the fridge.
When ready to make the frittata, preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a big pinch of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. If you aren’t squeamish about raw eggs, taste for salt, adding more as needed.
Put the caramelized onions in a heavy, oven-safe, 10-inch frying pan. You can use nonstick but you don’t have to. Cook over medium-high heat until the onions warm up. Add the sweet potato slices, and cook, tossing occasionally, just to warm up the potatoes, but be careful not to break them up. Pour in the eggs, and gently lift the potatoes and onions to allow the eggs to get to the bottom of the pan. Let them set for about 1 minute. Now, using a silicone spatula, draw in from the outside of the pan to the center, lifting the cooked egg and letting the liquid egg get to the bottom of the pan to set. Repeat this, drawing in from different sides of the pan, until the frittata is almost completely set. You’ll see just a little liquid left on the top.
Sprinkle on the melted cheese, then place the frying pan in the oven. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the eggs are set, the cheese is melted, and the frittata has puffed up.
Chop the leaves from the second rosemary sprig finely, then sprinkle on top of the frittata. Let rest 15 minutes, then cut into 6 wedges and serve.