21 September 2008

Southern Comfort

Southern Living magazine has been a staple in my home for as long as I can remember. Growing up near Atlanta, where I think state law requires a subscription to maintain your southern credentials, it was always on the lamp table in the living room or next to the stove in
the kitchen. And when I moved away from home after college, my parents gave me a gift subscription that has been renewed every year since.

A picture of an egg dish in the current issue caught my eye, and after reading the recipe, I had to try it out on a few friends. The recipe is essentially gussied-up hash browns topped with eggs. It's easy to prepare, requiring just one pan, and the finished product is as pretty as it is delicious. Add some maple-glazed bacon on the side (okay, there is a second dirty pan), and you'll rake in more mmm's and ahhhh's than Miss America on the runway.

If you, like me, only have one oven, cook the bacon first and keep it warm on the stovetop while you prepare the egg dish.

A friend of mine loaned me an old Julia Child recipe book to make a tart recently (future blog posting) and I noticed that in each of her recipes, Julia listed the cooking implements as ingredients. I liked that, so I am following her lead from now on and doing the same.

Eggs in the Nest (Southern Living calls it "Sunny Skillet Breakfast")

10-inch cast iron skillet
4 or 5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 medium baking potatoes
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
6 eggs

Grate the potatoes and soak them in cold water for 10-15 minutes rinsing once and changing the water halfway through. This gets a bunch of the starch out of the potatoes, which helps them brown nicely and not turn to mush. Drain thoroughly. If you're really ambitious, you can spread them out on a dish towel and pat them dry.
Heat the oven to 350F.
Heat the oil and butter in the skillet. Saute the onion and bell pepper about 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the grated potatoes and saute for 10-15 minutes until browned.
Remove skillet from the heat and make 6 indentations with a spoon. Crack an egg into each indentation. Bake at 350F for 12-14 minutes.

Maple-Glazed Bacon

half-sheet baking pan with rack
1 pound thick-cut peppered bacon
1/4 cup maple syrup

Heat oven to 425F.
Spread the bacon out on the rack on the pan.
Cover loosely with foil with several holes poked in it so steam can vent. This will help it crisp and prevent grease splatters in the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and drizzle a little syrup on each piece of bacon.
Cover again loosely and bake for 20 minutes more.