11 August 2013

Farmers Market Breakfast Skillet

Nothing is quite as glorious as a farmer's market in summer.  Fragrant tomatoes, sweet peaches and oodles of zucchini as far as the eye can see...it's practically foodie heaven.  As good fortune and the Midwest would have it, the hubs and I are sitting smack dab in the middle of no fewer than four Saturday markets.  Whichever way we turn, we are practically tripping over honeycomb and bushels of corn.  First world problems, right?  One of our friends even has a share in a local farm and receives a box of their fresh vegetables every week...such a cool thing.  And since she just happened to be out of town this week, she bequeathed this weeks produce to us.  The last time I was that excited about opening a box, it held an engagement ring.

Inside I found a veritable treasure trove of tomatoes, cucumbers, leeks and celery.  The fact that we have a full vegetable drawer devoted solely to home grown tomatoes brings a tear of joy to my eye.  But while I weep happily over the tomatoes, the hubs is most pleased with the boxes starchiest content - potatoes.  Perfectly dirty and small, these cute little buggers were darling enough to sway me from my standard no-thanks-I-only-like-sweet-potatoes line and want to give them a taste.  Typically when we do homemade dishes with potatoes, we make some variation of baked hash browns with eggs.  But these wee potatoes were so very tiny that attempting to cut them on the mandolin would have been the equivalent of a death wish for your finger tips.  So the hubs had the brilliant idea to nix the shredding altogether and go with a simple dice for a sort of breakfast potato bowl.

Similar to a skillet at your favorite breakfast spot, this crispy diced potato dish was delish.  Tiny, crispy potatoes were the perfect base to top with smoked cheddar cheese, crispy bacon bits, soft-cooked eggs and of course, a few of my gorgeous local tomatoes.  The hubs favorite part of this dish was the variety of flavor combinations in every bite.  Sometimes you have a fork full of crispy potato and delicious tomato, while other bites are potato bits and eggs melted together with cheese.  Basically it's a big bowl of your favorite breakfast foods with an amazing textural element.  By mixing your bacon, potatoes and eggs together you come up with something really delicious and fun to eat.

The trick to this dish is to keep everything light.  Nobody likes a gut bomb at breakfast, weighing you down for the day and inducing the dreaded mid-morning food coma.  By reducing the amount of fat while you cook the dish, you are reducing the heaviness of the end result.  Keeping this goal of lightness in mind, we like making this with turkey bacon.  But if you are a pork bacon purist, go ahead and use your favorite style...just be sure to wipe out the pan before cooking your potatoes.  This will insure light, crispy spuds rather than soggy little grease nuggets.

Since our beautiful box also contained some lovely cilantro, we used this as a garnish with a touch of hot sauce.  Avocado and salsa would also be great on this for a nice Mexican flavor.  Alternatively, you could garnish with freshly sliced green onions and let the flavors of the potatoes, bacon and cheese shine through.  Incredibly easy and super simple, this dish would be just as great for a crowd as it is for our family of two.  (Sorry pups, no skillet for you.)

Country Potato Breakfast Skillet (serves 2)

  • 4 slices turkey bacon
  • 1 1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 12-15 small potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (about 2 cups diced)
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 c smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c tomato, diced
  • chopped cilantro or green onions, to garnish
Place a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.  Cut the bacon into match sticks and add to the pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon strips are crispy, about 6-8 minutes.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.  Wipe out any excess grease with a paper towel.  

Add the olive oil to the pan.  When hot, add the diced potatoes and season with salt, pepper and paprika.  Stir together to evenly coat.  Grill the potatoes until they are cooked through and crispy, about 15-20 minutes.    

When you add your potatoes to the pan, turn on the oven to 425 degrees.  When the potatoes are ready, sprinkle evenly with the crisped bacon and cheese.  Crack the eggs on top of the potatoes and transfer the skillet or pan to the oven.  Bake for 4-5 minutes until the eggs are just set for runny yolks (add an extra two minutes for hard-cooked eggs).  Remove pan from oven and let cool for a minute.  Use a large plastic spatula to transfer the potatoes to your plate.  I find the best way is to start with the potatoes under each egg - slide the spatula under the potatoes and lift them and the eggs onto the plate.  Repeat with the a second egg and then add additional potatoes and bacon as desired.  Garnish with diced tomatoes and cilantro or green onions.  Serve with hot sauce or ketchup.  

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