Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the most northeastern region of Italy, has a very interesting culinary style. Like Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli is heavily influenced by Austrian and German food. However, Friuli also borders the Adriatic Sea to the south, and enjoys many delicious seafood dishes as well.
Friuli is the producer of several outstanding products. One is San Daniele prosciutto. Though not as well known as Prosciutto di Parma, this product is nothing to scoff at. Another product of the region is Montasio cheese which is a hard cow's milk cheese. The perfect way to highlight Montasio cheese is in a frico. A frico is basically a cheese crisp, and makes a wonderful antipasto. Though I made plain cheese fricos (is fricos the plural for frico?), you can also add things like potato and onion or spinach and leeks to make them more substantial. If you can't find Montasio cheese in your grocery store, you can use Asiago or Parmigiano Reggiano as a substitute.
You can also vary the size of the frico that you make, and even play with the shape! You can make smaller, 2-3 inch diameter ones, which would probably be better as a true antipasto at a party. But, you can also make larger ones like I did. The ones that I made were about 6-8 inches in diameter, and rather than laying them flat after removing them from the pan, I put them over the bottom of a drinking glass to produce an almost bowl-like cheese shell. Since Parmigiano Reggiano can be a great substitute for Montasio cheese, this would be a creative way to serve a Caeser Salad - just put the lettuce, croutons, chicken and dressing right into the frico!
Adapted from Food Network
-Makes 10 smaller crisps or 3 larger crisps, depending on size-
8 ounces Montasio cheese, grated
1 teaspoon butter
- Heat butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat until melted and coating the bottom of the pan.
- Sprinkle the cheese in a circular shape in whatever size you wish. Shake the pan to evenly distribute the cheese. Be sure to keep the layer of cheese thin so that it becomes crispy rather than chewy.
- Let the cheese cook over medium heat about 4 minutes or until the edges set and the color becomes golden.
- Use a spatula to carefully remove the frico from the pan. Working quickly because the cheese will set in shape quickly, either place the frico flat on a paper towel or shape around the bottom of a drinking glass to create a bowl shape.
- Continue with the rest of the cheese.
Ryan's rating of Frico - 3.