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Brunch Rush! Christmas Frittata with Whipped Ricotta

When I was a kid, every Christmas morning’s fast was broken with quiche. It was just my mom’s special holiday thing. She’d load up a frozen, compression-molded pie crust with ham and cheese for us, peppers and onions for her, and we’d open presents while it baked away. It was no Thomas Keller-esque creation, nor was it trying to be.

It was actually a brilliant strategy on her part. A simple, self-contained breakfast that could be prepped ahead of time made the frenzy of the morning a bit more manageable. It also became a holiday tradition, the memory of which is still evoked today. The sight of our glimmering Christmas tree and the smell of cooking ham, peppers and eggs bring me back to the magic of a holiday morning — when the world seems to stop for a few hours and we all just revel in being together. It’s what food, family and the holidays are all about.

A little cook’s note: You could certainly put all of these frittata fillings into a pie shell and bake them off as a quiche, but I prefer to hold back on the carbs. It leaves more room for cinnamon rolls and mimosas.

Christmas Frittata with Whipped Ricotta

Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Level: Easy

For the frittata:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 pound ham, chopped
12 eggs
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese
Salt and ground black pepper

For the toppings:
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and ground black pepper
1 cup fresh whole milk ricotta

Preheat a broiler and place an oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source.

Place a medium (10 inch) ovenproof, nonstick saute pan over medium heat with the oil and butter. Add the ham to the pan and cook until browned and heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, garlic, cheese and some salt and pepper. Add the egg mix to the pan and begin to lightly scramble them. Using a rubber spatula, scrape any cooked egg off from the edge of the pan and up from the bottom of the pan, allowing any raw egg to run into its place and smoothing the top of the frittata down with the rubber spatula. When the eggs begin to set around the edge of the pan but are still raw in the middle — after about 4 to 6 minutes — transfer the pan to the broiler and cook until the top is light golden brown and the eggs are cooked through, 30 to 60 seconds. Let the frittata cool for a few minutes before serving.

While the frittata is cooking, in a medium mixing bowl stir together the tomatoes, basil, parsley, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the ricotta with a spoon or rubber spatula until it’s light and fluffy, about 30 seconds. Season as needed with salt and pepper. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top.

To serve the frittata, slice it into wedges and arrange the tomato salad in a wreath around the top. Serve with the whipped ricotta.

Patrick’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Marc Forgione and Bobby Deen, he now works on digital production for FoodNetwork.com, CookingChannelTV.com and Food.com in NYC by day and develops recipes at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following him on Twitter & Instagram at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.

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