Get ready to embark on a culinary journey to Northern Italy with this delightful frico recipe! This rustic, comforting dish of potatoes and cheese is perfect for those chilly evenings when you’re craving a warm and satisfying meal.
About this Recipe
By: Silvana Lanzetta
Friulian frico is so far from my Neapolitan roots that it almost feels like it’s from another country. Frico is this rich, hearty meal that’s perfect for the cold winters up in Northern Italy, which is quite different from the milder Neapolitan winters I’m used to.
Funny story – I actually stumbled upon this scrumptious dish right here in London, of all places! A Friulian friend introduced me to it a few years back, and let me tell you, it was love at first bite!
The oldest frico recipes ever heard of go all the way back to the mid-fifteenth century. Back then, potatoes weren’t even a part of the dish, as they were introduced to Europe from America in the following century. Instead, frico was made from strips of cheese roasted in butter or lard, then flavoured with sugar and cinnamon or ginger. Friulian Frico was born out of a desire to reduce food waste, just like many other delicious dishes. Back in the day, frico was actually considered a humble, peasant dish. It was cleverly invented as a way to make use of those leftover cheese scraps from the cheese wheel-making process. These ancient recipes come from Maestro Martino, the chef for Ludovico Trevisan, who was the Patriarch of Aquileia from 1439 to 1465. Corn hadn’t made its way to Europe yet, so this early frico was enjoyed with bread.
A folktale on how to frico came to be
Legend has it that one time, a woman from the Carnic region left a pan of boiled potatoes and cheese on her “spolert” (a traditional wood-fired stove from the Friuli region) before heading out to work in the fields. She hoped that the dish would still be warm when she returned. Little did she know, the cheese had melted beautifully onto the potatoes, creating a divine, flavorful frico that we continue to savor to this day!
The friulian frico we know and love today -sometimes made with onion, bacon, leeks, or even rosemary- was ctually a hearty meal for friulian woodcutters known as “menaus.” They’d bring it with them into the woods and cook polenta over a fire. Nowadays, it’s a mouthwatering dinner that brings people together on chilly evenings in the stunning Dolomites region. You can even find it served up as a fancy dinner in ski resorts, where both Italians and tourists alike can’t get enough of this comforting dish.
Friulian Frico is high in fat, primarily due to the cheese. The recipe provides a moderate amount of protein and a moderate amount of carbohydrates. The Frico should be consumed occasionaly.
- Proteins 17% 17%
- Carbs 19% 19%
- Fats 63% 63%
When making Friulian frico, the traditional choice is Montasio cheese. But I’ll be honest with you, I’ve had a tough time finding it outside Italy (and even in some southern regions of Italy). Don’t worry though, there are plenty of other delicious cheeses you can use! Just be sure to pick two different ones: one young and one more aged. And, of course, make sure they melt well to create that perfect frico consistency.
I’ve got a few personal favourites that I usually turn to for this recipe: Gruyere, mild Cheddar, Emmental, Fontina, Raclette, Comte, and Monterey Jack. They all work beautifully in a frico!
When it comes to choosing onions for this recipe, I’ve found that brown or pink onions work like a charm. It’s probably best to steer clear of red onions, though – they tend to bring a more intense flavour that might just overpower the dish.
You know what makes all the difference when selecting potatoes for this recipe? Choosing red potatoes! They have a lower starch content and more natural sugars than their counterparts, giving them a beautifully sticky texture. And that, my friend, is just the kind of consistency that takes your frico from failure to absolutely divine!