Sweet Potato, Apple & Pancetta Hash

This recipe had come to my attention in Google Reader earlier this month. I printed it out and placed it haphazardly in my recipe drawer in anticipation of making breakfast one Sunday morning. As it so happened, this past Sunday my husband and I awoke and both wanted a hearty breakfast. Shuffling through my recipe drawer, I ran across this recipe again and thought I would try it.

This recipe is simply divine because the flavors create a depth that most hash lacks. The pancetta lends meatiness, the sweet Vidalia onion a caramelized taste, the apple is slightly crunchy, the sweet potatoes are hearty and the cinnamon, thyme, salt and pepper lend a sophisticated taste to this simple dish. If you like your eggs over easy (my husband prefers his medium), the runniness of the yoke simply propels this dish into a breakfast galaxy all its own.

Sweet Potato, Apple & Pancetta Hash

a food + words original

2-3 tablespoons olive oil or butter for sautéing
1 quarter-inch thick slice pancetta, diced small (you can substitute about 2-3 pieces of bacon if you’d prefer)
1 medium Vidalia onion, diced small
1 medium granny smith apple, peeled and diced into cubes about 1/4″ wide
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into cubes about 1/2″ wide
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stems
kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1-2 large eggs

For the hash:

Place a large cast-iron or other heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Flick a few drops of water into the skillet to make sure it’s hot enough. If the droplets sizzle and dance across the surface of the skillet, you’re ready to cook! Drizzle a small amount of olive oil into the skillet and add the pancetta. cook until crisp, stirring often, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the skillet and allow it to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Add the onion to the skillet and season with a small amount of kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Sauté the onion, stirring often for 2-3 minutes, or until the diced onion is translucent. Add the diced apple and cinnamon, and stir to combine. Sauté the apple and onion for about 5 minutes or until the apple begins to brown slightly. Scrape the apple and onion mixture onto a plate and set aside.

Add a small amount of olive oil or butter to the skillet and add the diced sweet potato. Season lightly with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, stirring to coat. Arrange the diced sweet potato in a single layer in the pan and allow to cook over medium heat for 2 minutes undisturbed until they just begin to brown. Stir the pan and again arrange the sweet potatoes in a single layer, cooking for another 2 minutes until brown on cooked side. Continue cooking the sweet potatoes until crisp, golden brown and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes.

Return the pancetta, apples and onions to the pan, and add the fresh thyme. Stir to combine, and cook for another minute to ensure the hash is heated through.

Portion the hash onto plates and if desired, top each serving with a poached or fried egg and lots of hot sauce.

For the fried eggs:

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. It should be hot enough that when you flick a few drops of water on it, they sizzle and dance. If you have a nonstick skillet, even better. Spray the pan generously with nonstick cooking spray, or if you’re going all out, use butter. I find it easier to crack the egg into a small bowl first, then I gently slide it into the skillet. I cook it on one side for about 30 seconds, shaking the pan gently all the while to ensure none of the egg is sticking. Once the white is almost completely solid white, it’s time to flip. Tilt the pan forward and down, at about a 45 degree angle. With the flick of your wrist, launch the egg up and forwards, while keeping the pan underneath the egg. It might take a few tries, but definitely eat the imperfect ones. Once flipped, cook the egg 15 seconds, slide it on top of the hash, and season with kosher salt and pepper.

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