One of the things I love about cooking around the holidays is experimenting with all the ingredients in my refrigerator. Although I have a great time planning our Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year's feasts, I think I enjoy the impromptu ones even more. Take Christmas breakfast this year: although I had every intention of making cinnamon rolls the night before Christmas so we could have freshly-baked ooey gooey deliciousness in the morning, an ill-timed head cold forced me to bed early. So there we were, Christmas morning with no buns. What we did have, however, was a fridge full of fresh and luxurious holiday ingredients.
After my daughters had their fill of opening the slew of presents Santa left, I sidled into the kitchen and opened the fridge. As I stared at the contents, I started to get hungry. My cold was subsiding and my nasal passages were starting to be able to discern smells again. As I scanned the shelf before me, I realized I had all the makings for a great frittata: eggs, baby spinach, pancetta, ricotta, parmesan, and heavy cream. It didn’t take long to mix everything together, and once I did, my mother commented on how the pancetta’s pink color coordinated with the green spinach to make a lovely Christmas color combination. I stared at my plate and felt a bit like an accidental Martha Stewart until I looked up and was brought back to reality by my messy kitchen. Even better than how it looked, however, was the fact that the eggs, ricotta and heavy cream had merged into a gorgeous custard, with the pancetta, spinach and Parmesan adding both salty and savory flavors.
The foods I had on hand worked well for my needs, but I could have easily used a variety of other items many people have lying around during the holidays. If you have a refrigerator full of random leftovers from holiday menus, just use whatever sounds good to make your own great holiday frittata. Some items you may want to use are cheeses left over from an appetizer platter, crème freche, ricotta, heavy cream, baked ham, sausage, pate, or al dente vegetables. There’s nothing like a frittata to make the most of a 1/2 cup of leftover whatever.
I’m also including my recipe for breakfast sausage, which I made on Christmas morning to go with the frittata. I like to start with sausage meat from my local butcher, but you could just as easily cobble this dish together using mild Italian pork or chicken sausage, or bratwurst. Any sausage you like is fine as the real flavor comes from adding a few more ingredients to the meat. Sometimes I add rosemary, spring onions and mustard, but I have also tried and liked adding a tablespoon of maple syrup, thyme, and shallots. You could also toss in a tablespoon of fruit chutney.
Most of us don’t have heavy cream and aged cheeses sitting in our refrigerators on a daily basis, so if you have holiday foods left over, make the most of them. Chances are your cupboard will revert back to a more modest and healthier ingredients list in a week or two and the opportunity will be lost.