Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Red Flannel Hash

When it comes to quick dinners, eggs are nonpareil in my book. Father Winter reared his ugly head and after spending an hour or two shoveling after work, I needed a hearty dinner and I needed it fast. Red flannel hash often appears around St. Patrick's Day, but this ruby-hued beauty of a dish is a lovely meal all winter long.

My CSA provides an embarrassment of riches in the root vegetable department, along with some healthy (okay, disturbingly large) heads of cabbage, so this recipe is practically a love letter to the ingredients already in my fridge. The relative amounts of each ingredient aren't all that important, so assemble the ingredients in whatever ratio makes you happiest or helps you clean out of the fridge. After all, this began as a humble, hearty peasant breakfast, so there's no need to be to fussy with adhering to the recipe perfectly. 

Without too long of a cook time, the beets become sweet and caramelized, happily mingling with the starchy potatoes and crisp-tender cabbage. If you like your veggies with a little more texture, or simply can't wait to chow down, cook the eggs and serve promptly, but if you want this to stew the veggies down to a meltingly tender crimson mash before adding the eggs, it's equally delicious that way. The runny egg yolk glazes each bite with richness, but the traditional corned beef or some sausage or bacon certainly wouldn't be unwelcome for an even heartier meal.

Although it won't be red flannel hash without the beets, this template is still primed for experimentation with other root veggies, the celeriac and rutabaga in my fridge already clamoring for a starring role in the sequel. 

Red Flannel Hash
adapted from The Kitchn
serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3-4 red or Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and diced small (or shredded)
3 beets, peeled and diced small (or shredded)
1/2 head red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
4-6 large eggs

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and cook until the onions become soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, herbs, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Stir until the garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add the potatoes, beets, and another 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir everything together, cover the pan, and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the beets are tender. Don't worry if the potatoes start to fall apart a little - they are meant to! As you stir, be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan every so often to work in the browned bits from the pan.

3. When the beets are tender, stir in the cabbage. Cover and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the cabbage is wilted. Give the mash a taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.

4. At this point, you can serve the mash right away or you can turn down the heat and let it simmer for as long as a half an hour. You can also take the mash off the heat completely and re-heat it when you're ready to serve.

5. Five minutes before you're ready to serve, crack the eggs around the circumference of the pan. Cover the pan and let the eggs poach for 5 minutes for runny yolks or 7 minutes for firm yolks. Scoop onto plates and serve.

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