Scott used to live in the Highland Park neighborhood of Saint Paul, Minnesota. He had a quaint 80-year old Tudor-style home on a tree-lined street in a prime location. It was within minutes to downtown Saint Paul and just a few miles further to the Minneapolis metropolis. A cheap $10 cab ride could get him home from the airport and the Mall of America was easily accessible. He even had a prime farmers market nearby.
But I think what made this place special to Scott was the sheer volume of breakfast joints within a ten-block radius of his home. Places that served diner-style food designed to add extra insulation to the diners braving those harsh Minnesota winters.
He regaled me with stories of his bachelorhood, seated at a local greasy spoon reading the Sports page and ordering up his breakfast favorites. The” usual” for him was a skillet piled with crispy hash-browned potatoes, grilled green pepper, mushrooms, onion and andouille sausage topped with cheddar cheese, two over-easy eggs, Hollandaise sauce and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Gawd! Defibrillator-time!
Thing is, we don’t have joints like that here. Oh sure, there’s tons of places for breakfast, but most of them are chain restaurants, like Denny’s or iHop or they’re the “nicer” places where you’re gonna pay $8.95 for a glass of orange juice.
Until someone opens the kind of roll-out-of-bed, still-in-your-pajamas, no-makeup-required cafe in our neighborhood , I guess I’ll be making my own skillets like this one with sweet potatoes, bacon and an oozy-gooey egg. And I’ll do it in my jammies!
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
- 1/2 green pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 4 eggs
- 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced on a diagonal, for garnish
- fresh chopped parsley for garnish
- hot sauce to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Salt the water with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and add the diced potatoes. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook potatoes about 10-12 minutes until just tender. Drain the potatoes completely and allow any moisture to evaporate - you don't want the potatoes to be wet, because they will become mushy. Heat an oven safe nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until brown and crisped. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined dish. Set aside. Add
- 2 teaspoons of the butter to the pan with reserved bacon fat and heat over medium heat. Add the diced peppers and onions and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a small bowl and set aside.
- Add remaining butter to the pan and heat until the butter is melted and foamy. Add the sweet potatoes in a single layer. Sprinkle the potatoes with smoked paprika, salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes. Do not stir, just let them get a nice crust before disturbing them. Use a thin, flexible spatula to turn the potatoes over in the pan to crust the other sides, cooking for 2-3 more minutes per turn (about 12 minutes total).
- Add the raw, chopped garlic, peppers and onions to the potatoes and carefully fold them in, so that you don't break up the potatoes. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Crack the eggs on top of the hash - spaced a few inches apart. Lightly salt and pepper the eggs and cook on the stovetop for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 2 minutes. Turn on the broiler and heat the eggs for 1-2 minutes until whites are cooked through, but yolks are still jiggly. (YUM!)
- Sprinkle with reserved bacon, green onions and parsley. Serve with hot sauce, I recommend Crystal brand - it has a nice vinegary taste that cuts through the fat in this dish.