Monday, May 23, 2011

Asparagus, bacon & potato hash with eggs

Spring summer is here!  After a week of rain, the skies dried up and the clouds parted to reveal a fantastically sunny and warm weekend.  Temperatures in the upper 70s and low 80s made things like dining outside on picnic tables and going for long walks with no destination in mind.  It also made my little apartment quite warm and thus the idea of turning on my oven even more unappealing.

Solution?  Have a bowl of cereal for dinner.

I'm kidding!  For now, anyway.

But, seriously.  The real answer was to keep that oven off and do all of the cooking on the stovetop.  My favorite quick and easy go-to meal: a hash.  And with some fresh asparagus to make one very spring-y dinner.  Don't these perky green spears make you so excited for warmer weather and farmer's markets? 

It's recipes like this that make me really love food.  Not just as a necessary form of sustenance,  but as a hobby, an art, and a culture.  It's truly amazing what you can create from four simple ingredients. 

It's also incredibly fun to trim asparagus.  Never done it?  Rather than using your trusty knife, use every cook's greatest tools -- his hands.  Simply bend each asparagus spear and it will snap at its natural breaking point, so you can discard the woody (read: not so tasty) end.

So, after playing, I went about making dinner.  Sizzling the bacon. Crisping up the potatoes.  And cooking the asparagus in the precious bacon drippings

Attention: If you ever cook with bacon, totally skip the olive/vegetable/canola oil and use the bacon fat renderings.  Not only will it add incredible flavor to whatever you're cooking, but it cuts down on waste and saves pricey olive oil!

As the hash was partying, I cooked up some eggs next door.  Blurry subjects aside, how colorful was this dinner looking?

As I was plating the food, I made a mental promise to visit farmer's markets much more frequently this summer.  They're quite common these days and really accessible.  Take, for example, the new Pittsburgh Public Market.  Have anyone been there?  I have yet to visit!  While it's glamorous to think of frolicking through stands upon stands of local produce, snagging items that look particularly inviting and plopping them into your wicker basket... the reality is that my asparagus, potato, onion, and bacon came straight from the fluorescently-lit aisles of Giant Eagle.

And they tasted just as delicious.  I'm sure of it :)

Spring Asparagus Bacon Hash
(adapted a bit from Smitten Kitchen)
-feeds 2

A few notes: As with any of the hashes I've shared, this recipe is easily adaptable and expandable.  Guidelines, my friends, not recipes.  A great suggestion from Deb of SK is to top the hash with some creamy goat cheese.  Sounds good!

1/4 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1large Idaho potato, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1 small yellow onion, chopped small
1/2 pound asparagus, (woody ends discarded) cut into 1/2-inch segments
Ground black pepper

Heat a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat.   Fry the bacon, turning it frequently so that it browns and crisps on all sides, about 4 to 5 minutes total.  Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to drain.

Meanwhile, leave the bacon fat renderings and add the potatoes.  Allow them to cook, undisturbed, for a few minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Once they've started to brown a little underneath,  begin flipping and turning them, then letting them cook again for a few minutes. The idea is not to fight them off the frying pan, once they’ve gotten a little color, it’s easier to flip them and you’ve gotten closer to your goal of getting them evenly browned.

When the potatoes are about three-fourths as crisped and brown as you’d like them, probably about 15 minutes total, add the diced onion.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Add the asparagus and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until crisply cooked.  Return the bacon to the pan for another minute, to reheat.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.  Top with eggs, if using, and serve immediately.

1 comment:

  1. I had a hash for breakfast on Sunday. Potatoes, LOTS of onions, green and red peppers, scrambled eggs, and provolone cheese. Yummy.