I've always been a fan of "slightly burnt cheese" whether it be the bubbling topping of a pizza, the edge or corner piece of a lasagna or macaroni and cheese, or perhaps the filling of a grilled cheese sandwich that has spilled out from its bread-y prison and onto the surface of the griddle below.
I didn't know there was a name for this sort of thing until, years ago, I watched Mario Batali making "fricos" with Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino cheese on one of his many cooking shows (way back when the Food Network had
Preparing for Porkpocalypse IV: The Forage Home, the fourth installation of Dr. Adam J. O'Donnell's yearly pig roast, I had grated a large quantity of Parmiggiano-Reggiano for pesto (which I don't recall us using – Adam is it too late to get some of that?), and a substantial amount of that remained unused.
By mid-morning, having been up since 5:30AM, it was time to gnosh on something. Adam told me that there were eggs that needed to be used and I took one look at the pile of cheese and one look at the non-stick pan on the stove and knew what I was going to do.
"Wow," Adam marvelled with genuine wonder, "this is the best thing I've tasted in a long time."
"Don't thank me, thank Mario Batali."
We pulled out our smart phones and perused examples of frico in Italian cooking – usually prepared either on a non-stick pan or on a silicate baking pat, often formed into shapes (cups, cones) like one would with a cookie touille.
My breakfast version merely formed the crust on the over-side of a pair of eggs over medium.
- 1/4-1/3 cup of shredded hard or aged cheese, like Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino Romana.
- 2 large chicken eggs.
- Chopped fresh herbs.
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
Start the frico by making a rough circle of cheese directly on a non-stick pan over medium-high heat with a small amount of olive oil.
When the cheese completely melts and begins to bubble and brown, add a pinch of herbs then crack the eggs over the cheese. Try to keep the eggs from running too far away from the frico (this works better with fresher eggs).
Salt the yolks and top with more herbs and cracked pepper.
Cook for a minute, covered, then carefully flip and cook to desired doneness.
Serve over crostini, buttered toasted bread, Tuscan style cannellini beans or polenta with a final garnish of fresh herbs and raw extra virgin olive oil.