Marcus has covered food for Newsday since 1998.
What can I do with leftover French fries?
Excess French fries aren’t usually a problem. If they’re good I generally finish them, and if they’re bad I leave them at the restaurant. But every once in a while I am confronted with a big pile of fries that I simply cannot get down. This happened the other night at Butcher’s Bar & Grill in Williston Park: stuffed with steak, my party was helpless before a huge hillock of matchstick fries. But they were too good not to take home.
The next morning, I used the fries as the base for a frittata. My inspiration was the great Spanish dish, tortilla Española, which graces virtually every bar and sandwich shop in Spain. No relation to the Mexican tortilla (a flat cake made from ground corn), tortilla Española is a frittata filled with caramelized onions, fried potatoes and a great quantity of olive oil. I left out the onions — this was supposed to be a quick, leftover dish — and still came up with something delicious.
The quantities below are for 2 cups of fries; increase or decrease according to how much you have. If you think of it, let the French fries come to room temperature before you start to cook. To finish the frittata in the oven, you’ll need a nonstick pan with an ovenproof (metal) handle. Otherwise you’ll have to flip the frittata and finish it on the stove top (see note).
FRENCH FRY FRITTATA
2 cups leftover French fries
Extra-virgin olive oil
Chopped parsley (2 to 4 tablespoons, optional)
1. Preheat the broiler. Beat the eggs in a large bowl until they are well integrated. Add the fries and, if the fries weren’t already well salted, toss with more salt. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil (don’t stint: the more you add, the creamier and tastier the frittata will be) and the optional chopped parsley. Mix well.
2. Put about a half inch of water into a sturdy 10-inch nonstick pan and place over medium heat until water starts to simmer. Pour out water, wipe pan dry, and film the bottom of the pan with olive oil. (This trick allows you to preheat your pan without burning the oil.) When the oil runs easily around the pan, take it off the heat and add the egg mixture. Turn down the burner to low, return the pan to the heat and cook, shaking the eggs gently, swirling them slowly, and scraping down the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula until soft curds form. Then let the eggs set in the pan for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, shaking the pan gently occasionally to encourage the eggs to cook evenly.
3. Use the rubber spatula to lift up the eggs to assess their progress and when they are nicely browned, slip the pan into the broiler for just a few minutes until the top is browned and slightly puffy. Monitor this step carefully, the frittata can go from browned to burned very quickly. Let the frittata sit in the pan for at least 10 minutes before unmolding. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 4 servings.
Note: If your nonstick pan isn’t oven safe, you’ll need to flip the frittata. Once the bottom is browned, carefully slide the frittata onto a large, flat plate. Place the now-empty pan on top of the plate and flip the frittata back into the pan. Place the pan back on the heat and cook until the bottom (formerly the top) of the frittata is browned.