Monday, September 12, 2011
SWEET CORN HASH
Shortly after making chilled avocado soup with a corn-bacon-jalapeno-onion-cilantro topping so delicious I could have just as happily eaten it sans soup, I stumbled across a recipe that’s pretty much exactly that. This iteration—from The Way the Cookie Crumbles, based on a version by Joy the Baker, who is the source of the avocado soup recipe, so we have truly come full circle here—is rounded out into a hearty breakfast (or, in my case, a cozy Saturday night supper) with the addition of potatoes and eggs. I punched up the color and vitamins by serving the whole thing over a bed of greens (spinach because I had an orphaned half-bag in the fridge, although I would have used arugula otherwise), which added a nice freshness and texture—the greens achieve a pleasant state of semi-wiltiness, with the egg yolk coating them like a dressing. The original recipe didn’t call for jalapeno, but Bridget mentioned adding roasted green chile, and since jalapeno had been so tasty in the soup topping, I figured it would be good here, too (spoiler: it was). And, in a further effort to replicate the magic of the soup topping, I subbed cilantro for parsley again and was well pleased.
My one misstep was to distrust the idea of cooking potatoes in the microwave (I know it’s perfectly possible, but I’ve never done it and our microwave is rather temperamental, so I wimped out). The original Joy the Baker recipe calls for them to be roasted, but my oven’s still defunct (GRRR), so I boiled them instead. This of course (a) took more time than microwaving and (b) made them quite soft and damp, which in turn made them take forever to get browned and crispy in the skillet, and they broke down quite a bit in the process. I don’t know why I didn’t just start frying the potatoes from a raw state, which is what hash recipes usually direct you to do, except that sometimes it’s hard to get the potatoes tender that way before they’re too well browned on the outside, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s a crunchy potato. (This is, in my view, the downfall of 70 percent of restaurant breakfast potato preparations.) In retrospect, I should have just tried the microwave method. Next time! For there will certainly be a next time; this is my favorite version of hash I’ve ever made. I loved the way the sweetness of the corn balanced out the smoky fried flavors, with a hint of spice from the pepper and brightness from the cilantro. Also, I’m late to the party with this—it took me a long time to learn to tolerate runny yolks—but I’m becoming obsessed with topping things with eggs. Note to self: Eat more eggs; you like them. Also: learn to poach.
4 slices bacon, chopped
4 medium red potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 medium jalapeno, seeded and chopped
4 ears corn, kernels removed
¼ cup cilantro, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 large handfuls spinach or arugula (optional)
1. In a large nonstick skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat, cook the bacon until almost crisp.
2. While the bacon cooks, put the potatoes in a medium microwave-safe bowl; spoon a couple teaspoons of rendered bacon fat from the skillet into the bowl; stir. Cover the potatoes loosely and microwave on high for 3 minutes, stirring twice.
3. Add the onions, jalapeno, and potatoes to the skillet with the bacon; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the corn and most of the cilantro.
4. Lower the heat to medium-low. Using the back of a spoon, create 4 wells in the hash. Break one egg into each well; season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook, without stirring, until the white is set, about 8 minutes. Garnish with the remaining cilantro; serve immediately, over spinach or arugula if desired.
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: OK, except the eggs will not keep or reheat well. If you’re planning to save some as leftovers, fry the eggs separately for the servings you’re going to eat right away (as shown in the photo above), then fry additional eggs as needed when it’s time to eat the leftovers. Alternately, you can break the eggs into the cooking pan but break the yolks of the ones you want to save for leftovers, so that they cook thoroughly and harden (they will be slightly tough in the leftovers, but edible—more of a scrambled consistency).