Weekend breakfasts can be a tricky thing. I want something a little more luxurious than, say, oatmeal, but getting past my bed’s heavy blankets and my desire to watch Law & Order re-runs all day can make cooking something special a little tricky. Laziness is a powerful detractor.
Adding to my dilemma is my issue with cooking pancakes. First, there’s the mess. Flour bags need to be opened and with it that inevitable flurry of white dust that always makes me prefer cooking to baking. Then there are the number of dishes used: a bowl for dry ingredients, a bowl for wet ingredients, measuring spoons, measuring cups, a well-greased skillet. I have no problem doing this if, say, I were baking a cake. But when it’s the weekend, and I’m feeling so self-righteously lazy, seeing the pile of battered-up bowls in my tiny NYC sink becomes something of a buzz-kill. (Somewhere Terence is rolling his eyes since he’s entirely responsible for dish-washing responsibilities, but what can I say. I’m very empathetic.) But more than the mess is the fact that I’m beholden to that hot stove. I need to stand by it and pour/flip/stack until the batter is done, which often yields some severely cooled down ‘cakes. I could cook them in batches, but once I sit down to eat, I want to be down. I want to be on my couch, West Wing episodes playing at full blast, getting up only to freshen my coffee. Or, I want to be spending actual time talking to the people I’m eating with; when I’m on pancake duty, I eat hastily, constantly eyeing other people’s plates, waiting to see when others are ready to take on a new stack so I can run back to the stove. Not much fun at all.
Now, I know there are ways to getting around this – I could make all the pancakes and then keep them warm in the oven, for instance. But I wanted a recipe that would cut down on steps, not add to them.
Turns out my slothfulness can be rewarded with something delicious. This recipe yields a sweet, eggy base with an apple topping that can be likened to pie filling. Yes, pie. (You should already be heading to your kitchen.) Clean-up is painless, and it takes a grand total of ten minutes for it to rise in the oven, all puffy and golden.
But when it comes down it, the salty sides are what get me out of bed. I first thought about trying chorizo hash, which is always a hit, but I find it a little heavy first thing in the morning. So I decided to use up the rest of the lean, hot turkey sausage I had and see what would happen.
I was happy with the results but would recommend two things: a) potatoes love salt so season with a generous hand, and b) make sure to take the time to squeeze out as much water as you possibly can from the grated potatoes. It makes all the difference when you’re aiming for that great, crispy texture.
Lastly, this hash exhibits one of my favorite qualities in home-cooking: it makes for excellent leftovers. Top it with a fried egg and you’ve got yourself a more than respectable lunch the next day. Which means more time re-watching your favorite TV scenes, like this one.
Baked Apple Pancake
(adapted from Bon Apetit)
- 1 Granny Smith apple, seeded, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/8 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss apple slices with lemon juice and a sprinkling of sugar in medium bowl.
Whisk eggs and milk in large bowl to blend. Add flour, 1 tablespoon sugar and salt; whisk until batter is almost smooth (small lumps of flour will remain).
Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and remaining sugar in small bowl.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a nonstick, oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Pour batter into the skillet. Arrange the apple slices evenly over batter.
Transfer to oven and bake until pancakes are set around edges but still wet in center, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the pancake. Dot with 1 tablespoon of butter. Using spatula, carefully turn pancake over. (I had someone hold the skillet while I used two spatulas to flip.) Return to oven. Bake until the pancake rise, sugar mixture melts to sauce consistency and top of pancakes is golden, about 3 to 6 minutes. Cut into quarters and invert onto plates. Serve warm.
Turkey Sausage Potato Hash
3 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 large onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 bell pepper, any color
2-3 links of hot, lean turkey sausage (or any sausage of choice)
1/2 teaspoon of paprika (if you have smoked paprika on hand, that would work well too)
1/2 teaspoon of all-purpose seasoning OR a handful of fresh parsley
1 tablespoon of butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
Start by scrubbing and peeling your potatoes. Using the largest hole on your box grater, grate the potatoes, and then squeeze as much excess water from the potatoes as possible. Put grated potatoes in a medium to large bowl and set aside.
Dice up your large onion, and in a pan (cast iron or something else non-stick works great here) sautee your onion in 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (olive or canola) until translucent. Add your cloves of minced garlic, followed by your diced bell pepper. It’s preferable if the onions start to brown, but make sure to not burn the garlic. Once the bell peppers start to soften, sprinkle the mixture with some salt (about 1/2 a teaspoon) and a few cracks of fresh black pepper. Turn stove off and add mixture to your bowl of grated potatoes.
Using the same pan, begin to cook your sausage. Break the meat into bits with a wooden spoon and let the meat brown on all sides. Turn off stove, and add browned bits to your potato mixture.
Add another 1/2 teaspoon of salt, more pepper, paprika and your all-purpose seasoning or fresh herbs to the bowl. Mix well.
Using the same pan, melt a tablespoon of butter on medium high heat. Add your potato mixture to the pan, pressing down well so the mixture is evenly pressed down in the pan. Let cook for several minutes until it’s very well browned on one side. Begin to break up and flip on its other side. You want your hash very well browned.
Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve with your favorite hot sauce, if you’re anything like me.