So I don’t really like breakfast. That’s a very personal opinion: I don’t mind if anyone else likes breakfast, and I’m not going to convince them they shouldn’t. But I do think there’s great potential in breakfast food, especially in eggs paired with starches, so I’ve taken to cooking a more refined — which is to say, “fancy and pretentious” — version of breakfast that I prefer to serve for dinner.
Soft-boiled eggs are really wonderful, so long as they’re good eggs. Get them fresh from the farmers’ market, which runs through December 9th, or buy organic or cage-free eggs from Shaw’s or Edge of the Woods. Soft-boiled eggs have fluffier whites and much runnier yolks than hard-boiled eggs, so they’re great served over something that absorbs their mushiness. The hash browns in this recipe are fluffy, too, since roasting them before frying them keeps their insides intact while their outer skins get golden and crisp. Use new potatoes and choose small ones with yellow flesh, like Yukon Golds or Yellow Finns. The bacon will be delicious no matter what (it’s bacon!), but try adding a touch of rosemary to tie its flavor to the potatoes. In the New York Times a few weeks ago, Mark Bittman suggested serving a dish like this with roasted bell peppers, parsley and salad; I’d say you don’t need to get too fancy, but I do recommend the salad. Try a cold-weather green like friseé or curly endive and dress it very lightly with olive oil and salt. Then invite your friends over for dinner and surprise them by serving breakfast.
“You’re crazy,” they’ll shout. “This isn’t dinner. It’s breakfast!”
“Dinner for breakfast!” you’ll shout back. “Eat or die!”
Recipe: Eggs, bacon, and hash browns
Serves 4. Active time: 45 minutes. Actual time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
16 medium potatoes (about 1 inch diameter), washed and quartered
6 sprigs rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for frying
8 large eggs
8 slices bacon
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Freshly-ground black pepper
(1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
(2) Toss potatoes in a roasting pan with four sprigs rosemary (leaves removed, stems discarded), one-fourth cup oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with aluminum foil and place in oven. After 30 minutes, remove tin foil and stir potatoes to keep from sticking to pan, then bake for another 30 minutes or until skins are golden and crisp.
(3) Meanwhile, fill a three-quart pot with water and bring it to a boil. Carefully slide eggs into the water, and boil for EXACTLY six minutes, no more, no less. Transfer eggs directly to a bowl of ice water and allow to cool five minutes. At this point, eggs are ready to serve and can be peeled when the meal is ready. If you prefer to serve eggs warm, reheat two minutes in warm (not boiling) water beforehand.
(4) When potatoes are done, turn the oven to “Broil.” Lay bacon slices on a roasting or broiler pan, and cook under broiler for eight minutes. Remove pan, and flip bacon slices over in pan. Combine remaining two sprigs rosemary (leaves removed and chopped very fine, stems discarded), brown sugar, cayenne, and about one-fourth tsp freshly-ground pepper, and sprinkle over bacon. Return to broiler for an additional eight minutes or until bacon is brown and crisp.
(5) Transfer potatoes to a bowl and crush with a large wooden spoon until most pieces are broken up but not mashed totally smooth. Check for salt and pepper, and add a dash of olive oil. Coat a frying pan or skillet with a good layer of olive oil, and put it over a burner on medium-high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add crushed potatoes in a single layer (you might need to do it in 2 batches) and fry 4-5 minutes, until bottom of potato-layer is golden and crisp. Transfer potatoes to plates. Put a slice of bacon on either side of potatoes. Peel eggs carefully and place them on bed of potatoes, then crush eggs so they slide over potatoes into a runny delicious mush. (If the eggs aren’t peeling easily, just break them over potatoes and scrape out the insides). Top with salad, if you’re serving it. Enjoy.