Recipe: Sausage frittata by David Theiss
Breakfast: the first meal of the day that’s loved, hated, or ignored; for some it may be a cup of coffee on the go, for others full-blown proteins, fruits, and carbs. Breakfast in the last 20 years has become a billion-dollar industry for making the first meal of the day quick and easy: cereals, microwave breakfast in a minute, not to mention all the fast food restaurants offering their own specialty meal. Breakfast by definition is the first meal that “breaks the fast” of a long sleep period, as it has been described to me for years.
Historically breakfast wasn’t a standard practice or routine. In some cultures, breakfast was considered to be a peasant’s meal as the men, women and children needed energy from a morning meal to keep them energized for the work they performed all day. In ancient Egypt, workers were fed a morning meal consisting of beer, bread, and onions before they left for work each day. In the Medieval times, breakfast in some places was granted only to children, the sick, and working men. Considering the fact Medieval people saw gluttony as a sin and a sign of weakness, eating breakfast signified a low status of a farmer or laborer. Noble travelers were an exception though; breakfast was permitted while they were away from home. Popular morning meals then consisted of rye bread, cheese, and, as in many of their meals, low-alcohol beers.
In the 15th century, meat became introduced to the morning rituals of the European diet as well as caffeinated beverages. It was believed these new beverages (coffee and tea) aided the body in the evacuation of superfluities. In the late 1800s the American idea of a continental breakfast became popular in Europe and consisted of items like pastries, croissants, other breads, and fruits which are still popular breakfast choices today. Of course, every region of the world had their unique take on breakfast, their own ideas and creations, some sounding delicious and others not so much. In Egypt, the national breakfast dish is Gaga beans, in the Arab’s Bedouin time, a mix of locust and butter spread on unleavened bread is a popular choice, and in Japan a common breakfast consists of rice and miso soup.
For centuries, early indigenous peoples of America produced maple syrup and after learning this process, Europeans began to pour this sugary, sweet syrup over cakes. A lot of controversy shrouds the beginnings of hot cakes/pancakes; one source cites an 1870s Vancouverite hotel which developed these cakes as a hearty breakfast for the hardworking lumberjacks. Waffles, on the other hand, were introduced to America by the pilgrims who brought them from the Netherlands. American pioneers consumed large amounts of corn meal to make a common breakfast of corn pone, johnnycakes, or ash cakes, which consisted of cornmeal wrapped in cabbage leaves and cooked in the ashes of a campfire.
What you might have thought as a somewhat new item for breakfast, the breakfast sandwich, isn’t so new at all. Workers in London in the 19th century would get their morning meal from a vendor stand selling a sandwich called a “bap sandwich,” named after the soft roll used to hold the egg and meat filling. After the Civil War in the United States, breakfast sandwiches became popular and common for breakfasts. In 1897, the first breakfast sandwich was published in a cookbook, ham and egg sandwiches being the most popular. In 1971 Herb Petersen invented the Egg McMuffin when trying to create a version of eggs Benedict with no sauce; he set a broken egg yolk topped with meat between two halves of an English muffin. Ray Kroc, chairman of McDonald’s, was so infatuated with the new product it was introduced to McDonald’s stores the following year. Breakfast now is 15 percent of McDonald’s sales.
Also popular during the late 1800s was popcorn covered with sugar and milk which marked the start of the cold cereal era. From the 1890s to the 1920s many cold cereal companies were marketing their own variety of cold cereal. The movement toward cold cereals was inspired by the Jacksonian era (clean-living movement) from 1830-1860. In the United States a clean-living movement is a period of time where a reform for healthier lifestyles erupts into popular consensus, many with moral overtones to eliminate or control individuals by law or persuasion, to “clean up society” with anti-tobacco or alcohol use, like prohibition. Interestingly enough these health movements have a cycle of approximately 80 years and have recurred in the United States many times.
Specific to breakfast, this movement claimed eating bacon and eggs, pancakes, etc., was too indulgent. The first cold cereal was marketed by John Kellogg in 1878 who named it “granola;” this became the first brand name breakfast cereal in the United States before the many completely over sugared cereals became popular. It was communicated to Americans cold cereal was a health food and Americans were encouraged to eat a simpler, lighter breakfast of cereal to be health conscious. Cold cereal caught on during the industrial era because it was quick and easy. You probably have heard the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” The origin of this slogan is from a 1944 marketing campaign to sell more Grape Nuts cereal by General Foods. Pamphlets they had printed along with other advertising read, “Eat a good breakfast, do a good job,” along with quotes of nutrition experts specifying the importance of eating breakfast.
Starting June 3, the 3rd and Curry St. Farmers Market is back to liven up the streets of Carson! Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., we will be sampling and selling a new variety of sausages each week! Come stop by our booth at the farmers market or, as usual, at Butler Meats, to get your fill! The first week we will have the sausage ingredient for the following recipe: smoked breakfast sausage.
Our recipe this week is a frittata, which is an Italian dish made with beaten eggs, similar to an omelet. Frittata can be modified by adding any vegetable you like and prepared the same way!
6 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup chopped breakfast sausage
2 tablespoon spinach, chopped
1/4 cup of shredded cheddar (sharp)
Start broiler. In nonstick oven-safe sauté pan, brown chopped sausage and any other vegetable you might want to add.
In a bowl beat eggs and add other ingredients and mix.
Melt butter in the pan and add the egg mixture over the cooked sausage. On medium heat, stir 4-5 minutes until egg mixture sets up.
Place the pan under the broiler for approximately 3-4 minutes until it starts to brown and remove, serve immediately. Enjoy!
David Theiss is the Owner of Butler Gourmet Meats and longtime resident of Carson City.