A few weeks ago I had both Salvatore and Rolando cooking in my kitchen in Umbria. Each are great cooks, each has run their own restaurant and each couldn’t be more different than the other. And I’m not talking about the the ‘one is short and one is tall’ thing. I’m talking about personality, way of thinking and cooking. While Rolando had completely planned out what he was going to be cooking, letting me know ahead of time and making sure he had all the ingredients he needed, Salvatore pulled up at the front door, at the very last minute, which a truck full of surprises.
All this to say that even though Rolando had planned on making me his special two egg frittata, when he saw that Salvatore was set on making his 14 egg extravaganza, we both decided to postpone what Rolando calls his ‘fazzoletto’ for another day.
I was intensely curious about this ‘handkerchief’, that Rolando had been telling me about. It sounded about as different as possible from Salvatore’s massive frittata I had learned how to make a few months earlier. Rather than use over a dozen eggs, Rolando uses only two, ‘Never more!” he admonished. Also? The garnish was important, both in terms of how it looked (‘flowers are stunning’) and also how the ingredients are cooked first (‘you have to really caramelize them’). So much information that just didn’t line up with any kind of frittata I’d had previously.
Luckily, last week, back in Rome, Rolando took me through, step by step, the fazzoletto-making. We headed out to shop first, then back to my kitchen in Rome to prepare and eat the paper thin frittata.
I made a video of the entire process, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
-We used zucchini, but any other seasonal vegetable works well (asparagus for example).
-Make sure you brown the vegetable, as shown in the video. “The sweetness of the browning is essential” explained Rolando.
-Throw out the frying oil please. Actually, no please about it. Don’t even be tempted to re-use the oil that you used for frying the zucchini for the fazzoletto making, it will completely overwhelm the taste of the eggs.
-Do not over cook! Once the eggs hit the pan, turn the heat off!!! The exclamation points are mine. Rolando never yells. He just calmly proceeds. But he was very firm about this: “There is nothing worse than over-cooked eggs.”
-Served the fazzoletto on a flat white plate. (Rolando thought my plates weren’t quite flat enough for the best effect.)
You can serve one fazzoletto per person as a main course, or make a few to share and serve as antipasto. An essential part of the entire process, as far as I could tell, involved the drinking of wine. Wine before you start cooking. Some more while you are cooking. And of course wine at the table. I mean, Rolando didn’t actually say this was part of it, but….well, he was very firm about this part of the process as well. You be the judge.
A few words about ingredients:
The cheese Rolando used for this recipe was bought at Beppe e i suoi Formaggi in Rome and is called Giallina. It is one of their best cheeses, made out of raw cow’s milk. It is very similar to high quality parmigiano. If you are in Rome, I suggest you try it. They are located on Via Santa Maria del Pianto 9a and now also have a stand in Campo de’ Fiori. If you are not in Rome, you can substitute good quality imported Parmigiano