They say that Portland is weird. A city where bikes are as common as cars; where tattoo shops outnumber drugstores; and where residents place community cohesiveness ahead of wealth and riches. I can’t say I mind this model of living one bit. In fact, when we decided to relocate here, these were some of the many things that drew us to this “weird” little city in the upper left corner of America.
But it makes me laugh to think just how Portland-y our lives have actually become since relocating. For instance, earlier this summer, my husband and I were sitting in our backyard, having a cocktail while the sun set behind our house. I was mid-sentence when I noticed his attention veer from our conversation to something happening behind me.As I turned around, I saw the object of his attention: two cute little chickens strutting through our yard. With their chests tall and proud, they appeared insufferably pleased with themselves for having made the long trek up our driveway and into the yard, which was full of bright green blades of grass after a rainy spring. They probably felt like the successful “49-ers” who traveled west in the mid-nineteenth century in search of gold—We’re going to be rich!
(In Portland, backyard chickens and goats are about as common as cats and dogs. In fact, the morning noises coming from around our house tend to resemble a country farm more than an urban city. As I sit writing this now, the chickens are clucking away, probably laying their morning eggs. Add it to the list of “weird”/adorable Portland things!)
While my husband tried to hold Bourré back from chasing the hens and turning them into his afternoon snack, I ran to our neighbor’s house to ask for some assistance. Much as I love animals, rounding up runaway chickens is not really my forte. After some instruction, my husband was finally able to grab one little lady to pass off to my neighbor. The other chicken ran out of the yard and back to the comforts of her home after Bourré’s attempts to help catch (read: eat) her.
We’ve since become friends with the cute lady birds that sit on just the other side of our fence. Their clucking makes us laugh many mornings and the pup enjoys poking his nose through the holes in the fence, probably fantasizing about what would happen to the poor chickens if he were to ever succeed in catching them. Earlier this week, the chickens were also the lucky recipients of our garden scraps. In exchange, our neighbor kindly brought us fresh eggs and a bag full of chanterelle mushrooms that he’d foraged himself. And this, folks, is what I love the absolute most about Portland.
I wanted to use the eggs and mushrooms together in a recipe to symbolize both the bounty of the Pacific Northwest and the communal lifestyles that are characteristic of Portland. What I came up with was a Chanterelle and Gruyère Frittata that is packed with flavor. I first sautéed the chanterelles in butter, their best friend, as well as some green onions, until tender. The addition of fresh sage brought earthiness to the dish and a splash of white wine incorporated some acidity. The chanterelle’s natural umami flavor was enhanced with a few tablespoons of butter, lending a rich meatiness to the dish. These ingredients sat cooking in the cast iron skillet until soft, when their flavors began to meld together.
Then the main attraction: the addition of several bright (urban) farm fresh eggs, courtesy of our favorite chicken friends, and a handful of nutty gruyère cheese. The egg mixture is heated on the stove-top until the edges begin to firm, at which point it’s topped with another handful of cheese and placed in the oven to finish cooking. When, and only when, the cheese topping begins to crisp and turn a delicious golden brown is the frittata removed from the oven and sliced into wedges for serving.
Community exchanges. Urban farms. And freshly foraged fungal bounty. All amidst the backdrop of badass food carts, plentiful microbreweries, and more tattoo-covered, beard-clad bikers than you can shake a stick at. Sure, it might not be conventional elsewhere to present your neighbor with rotting scraps from your garden. And anywhere else a bag full of mushrooms might seem like the strangest gift in the world. But here, it works. It works just perfectly. And I, for one, could not be happier about it.
Chanterelle and Gruyère Frittata
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 4 green onions (both white and green parts), sliced diagonally into 1” pieces
- 2 tablespoons of fresh sage, divided with half chopped and half full leaves
- 5 cups of chanterelles (about 125 grams) chopped into bite size pieces
- 6 large eggs or 8 small eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons of white wine
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 tablespoons of freshly grated gruyère cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat butter in cast iron skillet over medium heat. While butter is heating, beat eggs in a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of cheese, salt, and pepper to the eggs, and set egg mixture aside.
Add the green onions, 1 tablespoon of sage (chopped), and chanterelles to the skillet. Heat over medium until mushrooms are browned, about 7-8 minutes. Add white wine to the skillet and continue to cook until most of the wine has absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add the egg mixture to the skillet, making sure eggs cover the rest of the ingredients. Stir gently upon pouring to make sure ingredients are spread out evenly. Cook over medium heat until set on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Once you notice the sides beginning to firm up, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the skillet and place in the oven to bake for 4-5 minutes.
If the frittata appears cooked through, but the top is not golden after 4-5 minutes, turn heat to “broil” on hi. Keep a close eye on the frittata and remove from oven once you notice the cheese topping begin to turn golden brown, about 1 minute.
Remove from oven, top with remaining sage leaves, and slice into wedges to serve.