Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Red flannel hash

Over brunch in San Francisco the other month, a dear old friend asked me what was currently in my garden. When I mentioned beets, she exclaimed that I had to make this recipe from one of her favorite breakfast spots in Berkeley, emailing the link to me from her phone on the spot. I quickly skimmed the ingredients and could hardly wait for my beets to mature.

And mature they finally did! I pulled the first few beautiful red globes from the garden last weekend and this breakfast hash from Rick and Ann's was first in the (long) beet recipe queue. I realize there are people out there who dislike beets, and if I had only eaten them from a can, I would probably be among them... but there is absolutely nothing like a fresh beet. They smell like clean soil after a rain, the embodiment of earth and nature itself. Used raw in salads (like this one I am making later this week with the cutest freakin' little pink and purple Easter Egg radishes I found), they are refreshingly crunchy and go well with all kinds of vinegar and citrus. Roasted (in my favorite beet dish ever), they become soft, buttery, and musky. What's not to love?

I'm of the inclination that you can pop an over-easy egg on just about anything to make it delicious, but when that anything is pile of crispy potatoes fried in bacon fat, delicious is too mild a word. The addition of sweet, earthy beets and yams is divine and adds a whole other dimension of flavor and sophistication to plain ol' breakfast potatoes. If you were having guests, you could even steam everything up the night before and just fry in the morning, easy peasy.

The original recipe gives measurements in cups, which I would use if I were feeding a crowd, but this is what I used to feed two perfectly. It is every bit as glorious as described.

2 small red potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small yam, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium, 1 small, and 1 teeny beet, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 a small red onion, minced
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp heavy cream

4 eggs

Pop your steamer basket into a pot (that has a lid) and fill with water to almost the bottom of the basket. Bring to a boil, then add the red potato and yam cubes. Steam until tender, about 13 minutes. Remove them to a bowl, then steam the beets until tender as well, another 10 minutes. Add them to the bowl. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper as you go.

While that's happening, fry up your bacon in a large non-stick skillet until golden brown and delicious, but not too crisp. It will be cooked again with the hash, and you don't want it to turn into coal. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl with the steamed veggies. Also add the onion, parsley, and heavy cream, stirring to combine.

Remove all but about a tablespoon of bacon drippings from the pan, and turn the heat on medium-high. Flatten the hash into the skillet with a spatula (I found the best method was to use both hands, one with a flat spatula, the other a large metal spoon). Once you get it all in and smooshed, let it sit for about 5 minutes without disturbing. This is critical, you need to give it time to form a crust on the bottom. Then scrape it all up (in big chunks if you can), and flip it over to brown the other side. If it all falls apart, just stir it up and flatten it back out.

When you're confident everything has become lovely and golden and crispy and wonderful, plate up your beautiful hash and start to heat another non-stick skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. Or use the same one, if you are me/lazy. I'm a big fan of the olive oil fried egg, so if you are used to using butter, give this a try. Quickly fry the eggs over-easy (or to your liking), sprinkling with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and pop atop your hash. Give it a dash of hot sauce, break those beautiful yolks, and be grateful for sweet old friends who love beets.

Serves 2.

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