Well, life has changed a little bit in the six weeks since I posted here last. I’ve struggled a bit with what to write here given the gravity of everything that’s going on around us. That I’m able to work from home, kiss B2 and cuddle my children (who laugh and shriek and run around and have no idea what’s going on), feels deeply unfair in comparison to the starkly different reality that so many people are facing right now, and to come ramble about food felt especially trivial. But I am here–pictures of potatoes and all–and thought I would say hello and see how you are doing, and maybe share an improvisation-friendly recipe for what you have on hand in your kitchen.
In the last few weeks, I have discovered how awkward I am on Zoom, we have taken little neighborhood walks and gotten to know our backyard very well, I have with the rest of the Internet regrown our scallions, roasted a lot of cabbage, and tried a whipped coffee that rhymes with Balgona, and we celebrated someone’s 32nd birthday with an impromptu cake and lots of sprinkles. (32nd? 32nd. It was my birthday we celebrated. I don’t know how old I am.) Luke is old enough to start “helping” in the kitchen when I bake, and calls everything “making” and yells “TIME TO MAKE!” every time he sees the stand mixer on the counter. He insisted Mom’s birthday was definitely time to make, so make a cake we did.
We’ve also eaten a lot of potatoes. Somehow we happened to begin the shutdown with a surfeit of them, and so every weekend in quarantine has been full of the most indulgent potato breakfasts ever. We made kimchi hashbrowns and a potato galette, crispy smashed potatoes with capers, and for the last batch, a truly unrestrained Spam and onion breakfast hash.
It’s been years since I’ve made a hash–probably since it took us that long to recover from the sleepy stupor that follows its consumption–but it struck me how many different ways we could have made this with what we had on hand. Some lap cheong links would have been delicious, or rashers of bacon; I would have used some kimchi if we hadn’t just fried some in hashbrowns, but I think most vegetables could find a place here, like some torn spinach or ribboned kale. It takes a little patience but turns out incredibly savory and warmly comforting. And while it is hearty, I kind of liked that about it. A little goes a long way, which is not such a bad thing right now. (A lot also goes a long way, in case you’re as bad about portion control as me.)
Notes are below in the recipe about other ideas on how to customize the breakfast hash. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! While I have very little profound to say about what is happening right now, I am profoundly grateful for every moment I am spending these days with B2 and our little ones, eating cake or frying potatoes, conscious of how precious and arbitrary it is. And I am grateful too that I can keep coming here to share little recipes with you. I hope that you are all staying safe and healthy.Print
blank canvas breakfast hash
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 to 3/4 pound meat of your choice, diced, preferably with some fat on it (our shelf-stable favorites are Spam and Chinese lap cheong; bacon would be amazing, as it always is, or pancetta or any kind of sausage)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (or 1–2 cloves garlic, minced)
1 pound potatoes, any kind, scrubbed and diced into 1/2-inch pieces (we used baby red potatoes; sweet potatoes would be a nice lighter option)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup diced)
1/2 to 1 cup other vegetable, diced or ribboned (optional; 1/2 cup kimchi would be my choice, but you could try bell peppers, leeks, ribboned kale or collards, a couple generous handfuls of torn baby spinach, ribboned Swiss chard)
3–4 eggs, if desired
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice, if desired
A bit of fresh garnish if you have it (sliced scallions, parsley, chives)
- Heat a cast-iron skillet or other large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced meat or crumbled sausage and let cook, stirring every few minutes, until it’s crisped and brown and the fat has rendered out–about 6-8 minutes, or more. I prefer slightly lower heat to let more fat render before it gets crisp. In the last few minutes, add the garlic and let it sizzle a bit, too. When the meat is done, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pan, leaving the fat renderings behind, and set aside.
- Return the pan to medium heat and add the potatoes in a single layer to the rendered fat. Season generously with salt and pepper and let sizzle gently in the pan for about 10-15 minutes, stirring the potatoes every 5 minutes or so, until they start to look nice and golden brown on some sides.
- Add the onions to the pan. If the other vegetables you’re using (if any) are hardier, add them now as well, too. Kimchi, bell pepper, leeks, kale, or collards could go in now. If spinach or Swiss chard, leave them for a little later. Continue to cook, stirring only every 4-5 minutes, until the onions and other vegetables are softened and the potatoes are crisp, deep brown, and cooked through.
- If desired, sprinkle some cheese over top until melted, and separately fry eggs over easy or sunny-side up to serve over top. You can also crack the eggs right into the pan, add the cheese on top, and finish the dish in the oven at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until eggs are cooked through. This is my favorite way to go, even if a little fussier. Enjoy immediately.
If you prefer your potatoes quite soft, you can parboil them for a few minutes or microwave them for five to get them going before you begin to crisp them.
Optionally, dice the potatoes the night before or several hours ahead and soak the diced pieces in cold water, rinsing a few times, until you are ready to cook, which will drain them of some starch and encourage them to crisp.