Fricco? So, what exactly is Fricco? Simply put, sliced potatoes tossed with olive oil, onions and Parmesan cheese. So humble, yet so delicious! It reminds me a little bit of the Spanish dish Tortilla Espanola without the eggs.
According to one of my Italian friends Fricco is Italian rustic cuisine at its best original to the Fruli-Venezia Gulia region of Italy. This region is located in the northeastern corner of Italy bordering Austria to the north and Slovenia (part of the former Yugoslavia) to the east. It is a region with a rich cultural heritage whose eastern coast faces the Adriatic Sea. The northern portion of this region is known for its ample pastures and consequently excellent meat and dairy products. Fricco is an excellent example of European frugality. The dish makes good use of leftover food items. Better yet, it can be served as an antipasto or a main course. By the way, when I say antipasto I don’t mean the “salad” one often finds in Italian delis in this country. The true meaning of the word antipasto is a dish that comes before the pasta course.
In Fricco simple ingredients unite to create a tasty meal in about 30 minutes. Once again, according to my Italian friend, the cheese traditionally used for Fricco is Montasio, a creamy regional cheese protected under P.D.O. (product denomination of origin). I can’t get Montasio where I live, so I adapted the recipe by using a good quality Parmesan cheese. Fricco goes great with a side of mixed greens and a nice glass of chilled Pinot Grigio, just a suggestion. The crispy layer gives way to soft, melt in your mouth potatoes with a crisp nutty taste of Parmesan cheese. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of cheese required, it blends so well with the potatoes and the onions. The combination of flavors work so well together, that no one flavor overpowers another one in this dish. By the way you can use a cheese that is less strong if you prefer. However, whichever cheese you select, just make sure it is one that does not melt easily.
When making Fricco, I like to caramelize the onions slightly to bring out their natural sweetness. I also like the potatoes to have a slight crispiness to add a layer of texture to the dish. The cheese should be added a little bit at a time to allow it to combine well with the potatoes. Note: the potatoes should be slightly crispy on both sides, but not all the way through. I have a great dual pan that I use for this purpose.
- 2 medium baking potatoes thinly sliced
- 1½ Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 1½ cups good quality Parmesan cheese
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- dash of nutmeg
- Heat olive oil and toss in the potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes turning frequently.
- Add onions, nutmeg and pepper and continue to turn until onions are translucent.
- Slowly begin to add the Parmesan cheese ¼ cup at a time stirring constantly.
- Allow the potatoes to brown on one side and then turn to brown on the other side. You use a large plate to do this, even better if you have a dual pan.
- The cheese and potato mixture should form a light crust on both sides.