Cheese. Potato. Onion. What could be simpler? Actually, this regional dish requires a bit of finesse to turn out properly, but the yum factor is well worth it.
Next to the famed ham of San Daniele, Frico Friulano is perhaps the most iconic dish of the Northeastern region of Italy known as Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. This region is found just South of Austria and West of Slovenia, with its unique cuisine influenced by both. The foods you’ll enjoy here still feature pasta, but their exotic spices and sweet-savory influence are unique within Italy.
And the region is gob-smackingly beautiful. Though much of the region is over-shadowed by Venice, the entire region is postcard-worthy. Vineyards and fields of sunflowers provide a scenic stage for the chalky hills of the Dolomites and dramatic skies and cloud formations.
But enough about geography. Let’s get on with the food. Before making Frico Friulano you must first understand that there are two types of Frico – one is simply grated cheese placed in mounds on a silpat and baked until browned, then served as cheese crisps. Delicious and worth a try, but not what we’re here for today.
The second type is what’s pictured above – and both types of Frico call for the same Friulian cheese called Montasio. It can be hard to find on this side of the pond, but use it if you can and if not, reach for the Grana Padano or a good Parmesan instead.
- 1/2 pound Montasio, grated
- 1 medium potato, about 1/2 pound, peeled and grated
- 1 small onion, chopped
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat for a minute. Heat the oil for 10-15 seconds, then add the onion and cook until fragrant, another 3-4 minutes before adding the grated potato. Toss the potato and onion until well mixed, add salt/pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until golden and crispy on the bottom – about 10 minutes.
Add the cheese and combine well, working quickly with a non-stick spatula. Once combined, scrape the sides of the pan and spread any excess over the top, smoothing it into a pancake-like disc. Lower the heat and let cook untouched until the bottom is brown and nicely crusted (~5 minutes, but this will vary depending on your cooking surface).
Flipping Frico – Loosen the Frico by shaking the pan, place a large flat plate over the pan, flip everything and then slide the Frico back into the pan, exposing the beautifully browned cheese on top. If your Frico breaks during this process, just piece it back together in the pan and nobody will be the wiser. Cook until the bottom is browned, about 5 minutes more, before sliding onto the serving plate.
Slice into wedges and serve with a simple green salad.
Wine pairing – any crisp, aromatic white will be good, but if you can find a white wine from Friuli the pairing will be perfect!