Tuesday, July 17, 2012

bacon corn hash

bacon corn hash, wisp of steam

I just realized we are almost halfway through with summer and while I should be totally stoked about this — seeing as we’re melting through our fourth heatwave so far this summer in NYC and given what awesome things are in store for the fall — I am spectacularly bummed as I am just getting used to having an avalanche of delicious summer produce at my disposal and haven’t had time to do half of what I wanted to with it yet. Plus, this guy turns three at the end of the summer and I can’t, I won’t accept it. More time, please! For everything.

oatmeal strawberry cookies so much broccoli slaw
summer salsa fresca summer squash torte, simplified
cherry chocolate chunk scones buttermilk cornmeal chicken tenders

I missed you last week, a crazy week that did not entail, as hinted, a vacation but the heard-it-all-before-so-I’ll-spare-you tune about too much to do and too little time. I’ve been cooking more this month then my absence let on, just not a lot of things that seemed worth stepping up to this internet microphone to clear my throat and tell you about, things like oatmeal strawberry cookies (utterly delicious, but only for the first hour, after which they became chewy and sad, sigh) and a spectacular amount of broccoli slaw (five batches already this summer, a record). A summery salsa fresca with the first cherry tomatoes to go with our huevos rancheros and a streamlined version of this summer squash torte we can’t get enough of (there are new notes in the recipe, but I’d like to reshoot it and add more details soon, too). I made heart-shaped tiny whole wheat cherry chocolate chunk scones (closet Cherry Garcia fiend, here) for a friend’s daughter’s second birthday party and I’ve been fiddling around with various baked chicken tender recipes (for times when you crave crunchy chicken but have little desire to deep- or shallow-fry anything), looking for a winner.

diced red potatoes

sweet summer corn, de-cobbed
thick bacon, diced
potatoes, corn, scallions, ready to go

But this, this cannot go without mention as I am kicking myself a bit as I’ve had this hash on my cooking agenda for three summers now and only just yesterday got to making it. Silly Deb! Think of all this time you have wasted. There’s something really great about getting such a deep flavor and range of textures from only four ingredients (plus salt and pepper). Four! I keep recounting because I can’t believe it either. First, you take a spectacular amount of bacon, dice it up and fry it until it’s crisp and the other members of your family walk through the kitchen to pluck bits off the paper towel. Then, you use that bacon fat to fry your potatoes until they, too, are crisp and golden and utterly unfair to all the other potatoes that aren’t them. You crank up the heat, add fresh sweet corn and cook it until it’s brown but still crisp and then, you take the piping skillet of hash off the burner, sprinkle it with scallions and let the steamy heat melt them into the dish. One-two-three-four. Boom!

crisp little bacon nubbins
oh yes, potatoes in the bacon fat
scattered with scallions, they'll wilt

Fine, you can also top it with a fried egg, but that’s going to bring a fifth ingredient into play and might mess with your plans to be as lazy as possible this summer. What? Surely I can’t be the only person who daydreams about doing nothing, not a blessed thing, for an entire day. Then again, everyone knows if you add an egg to something, it becomes a complete and balanced meal. Tough decisions will need to be made. I suggest you stir up some Porch Swings while you mull these things over.

bacon corn hash, broken egg

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: How about a second preview? The first one is nearly three months old now, after all. In the New York Times Dining section this week, Julia Moskin talks about one of my favorite subjects (hinted about above), which is when you’re overwhelmed with produce and have trouble using it as fast as you’d like. She includes a recipe from the upcoming Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Leek-Vegetable Fritters with Lemon Cream. In the book, they’ll just be leek fritters and the sauce includes a small minced clove of garlic. In the newspaper, they look even prettier!

One year ago: Charred Corn Tacos with Zucchini-Radish Slaw
Two years ago: Thai-Style Chicken Legs and Peach Blueberry Cobbler
Three years ago: Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza
Four years ago: Chocolate Sorbet
Five years ago: Israeli Salad with Pita Chips, Roseanne Cash’s Potato Salad and Quick Potato Pirogi

Bacon Corn Hash

Note: I used 3 small ears corn, which yielded 2 cups but wanted more corn. So, the recipe below reflects the suggestion that you use more than you’ll see in the photos. Raw potatoes cubes can take a bit of time to cook in a pan, about 20 minutes, but you can speed the process up microwaving or steaming the cubes for a couple minutes before adding them to the pan. I never bother, since I’m always trying to use as few dishes as possible.

Makes 4 to 5 cups

1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into small dice
1 pound red potatoes, scrubbed clean and diced into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 to 3 1/4 cups)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium-large ears corn, kernels cut from the cob (2 1/2 to 3 cups)
1 bundle scallions, thinly sliced

Toss bacon into a large skillet over medium heat, no need to heat the pan first. Let rest for a few minutes until it starts sizzling, then move the bits around so that they begin to brown evenly. Again, wait a couple minutes before shuffling the pieces around; you’re looking for them to get evenly golden and crisp. This should take about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon bits with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings in the pan and transferring the bacon to paper towels to drain.

If your bacon is like mine, you’ll be left with a spectacular amount of fat behind. You’ll be tempted to drain it off. May I ask you not to? The potatoes that cook in this will be gorgeous and you will have a chance to remove this extra in a bit. It will mostly stay in the pan.

Heat the pan to medium/medium-high, making sure the bacon fat is nicely sizzly, then add your potatoes all at once in a single layer. Sprinkle them with 1/2 teaspoon table salt and several grinds of black pepper. Let them cook for a few minutes in one place and get a bit golden underneath before turning them over and moving them around. Repeat this process until the potatoes are browned on all sides; this takes about 20 minutes.

At this point, you can push aside the potatoes and pour or spoon off all but a small amount of the fat. I won’t tell you how much I was able to remove but it rhymes with shmoo to shmee shmablespoons. If you save it, you can use it to fry an egg in a bit.

Bump up the heat a little and add the corn to the skillet. Saute the potatoes and corn together until the corn gets a bit brown but stays fairly crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the drained bacon, and stir the mixture together until it’s evenly warm, about 1 more minute. Remove the skillet from the burner and sprinkle the scallions (reserving a couple spoonfuls if you’d like to use them as fried egg garnish) over the hash. In two minutes, they should be warm and mellowed. Season with more salt or pepper to taste, if needed.

Add a fried egg to it: Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and swirl in one to two teaspoons bacon fat or butter. Crack one egg into the skillet and reduce heat to medium. I like to cover the skillet with a small lid at this point, as it seems to help the egg cook faster and more evenly. In one minute, you should have a perfect sunny-side-up egg. Season with salt and pepper, serve on top of a pile of bacon corn hash.


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