I have been yammering on and on and on about how I am going to do a breakfast-palooza for almost an entire year. Yes, since LAST APRIL when I did my TV dinner soupapalooza. I am nothing if not a sloth when it comes to executing all the little delights my underutilized brain can conjure...of course, when I dream up these little delights they are always executed quickly, perfectly and I'm wearing a beautiful party dress that doesn't get any food on it. I really loves me an imaginary Best Case Scenario.
After all the plotting and thinking and reality TV watching (please feel more than free to judge me since I judge everyone else ALL THE TIME) I got off my duff and decided to get back on the soup program. Actually I was nudged by a friend who was coming to town for a quick visit and who also wanted to pack in seeing as many people as possible at one time as she could, which worked out well for me because just like starting a blog to ensure that I actually completed the cooking challenge I set for myself, this was a good way to make sure I didn't puss out. Because I do have a tendency to really, spectacularly puss out. Just ask my friend Delia about how I pretended to tighten the tension on the spinning bike in her class, and about the fact that I still almost fell down the stairs after the class because I've been sitting on my ass for A YEAR. And please forgive my Kanye-ALL-CAPS-I'M-YELLING-AT-YOU emphasis, but I think it's necessary to really MAKE MY POINT.
Anyway, I dreamed (dreamt?) up a pretty ambitious menu, though, like I said earlier, I never think it's all that ambitious until 30 people are in my house and there are no pigs in a blanket for them to munch on while I toss the salad. I consider that a party fail, though I have learned along this journey that it's usually more important to have the drinks ready than the proverbial pu pu platter as guests arrive, or maybe that's just because I have pretty boozy friends, I don't know, but whatever works. So here is the menu I settled on for my breakfast-palooza:
As you may know, soupapalooza! is held on Sunday since it's my version of a casual, urban-family-style Sunday supper, and I start planning and try to settle on a menu the Monday before so that I have enough time to prepare all of the elements. And with a menu like this, there were many, many pieces that came together on separate timetables, which can be challenging. I'm very glad I stuck with the menu choices I made on Monday because I managed to find myself in waaaaaaaay over my head by Tuesday.
On Monday I made the menu and laid out the tentative printed version and little table tent cards on my computer and I bought a waffle maker because I needed an excuse to buy a waffle maker; on Tuesday I picked up my poultry (six pounds of turkey for breakfast sausage patties, an entire pound of chicken fat and fifteen pounds of chicken backs for chicken stock) and my bacon from the butcher; on Wednesday I made sixteen quarts of brown chicken stock and then passed out, mouth wide open and lips chapped, while witching Dance Moms; and on Thursday I pretended to look busy. Because, as we've well established over these last years, I like to puss out almost as much as I love reality TV.
The real work started on Friday. I shopped for all the ingredients I needed to feed 30 brave souls, I made my bloody mary base (the recipe minus the vodka, which we added right as guests arrived), maple butter and the bacon breadcrumbs. Oh, and by the way, when I checked out at Whole Foods it went a little something like this, no joke:
But back to the business at hand, Saturday I set up the bar, mixed the turkey sausage, made cream gravy, two different ice cream bases (though I did manage to totally turn one of them into scrambled eggs which was totally not fun), spun one of the four batches of ice cream and mixed the waffle batter. Take my advice: do not try and spin more than one batch of ice cream in a 24 hour period of time if you have one of those freeze the bowl kind of home ice cream makers. It becomes sugary soup by the second batch.
And I'm not going to delve into any more excruciating details (I know, tears), but I'm just letting you know that even though Pillsbury saved my ass with their prefab buttery deliciousness, I was busy. Very, very busy. And when people started showing up on Sunday I didn't really have my shit together at all, though I was wearing the only cute party dress that Osama Beans Laden (my terrorist of a kitten) hasn't shredded and I had managed enough time in my schedule to brush my teeth, which I consider a gift for everybody that was present.
And with this, I give you a recipe. It's my this-is-already-a-shit-show-so-why-not-add-a-fried-egg-on-top recipe of the month.
homefry potato soup with bacon breadcrumbs, hash brown, fried egg & sriracha
makes about 4 qts, 8 servings
1 cup butter
1 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 TBSP kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 TBSP freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 tsp celery salt
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
1-2 TBSP white wine vinegar
1 cup heavy cream
sprinkle of smoked paprika for garnish
drizzle of sriracha for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (for the bacon breadcrumbs).
In a large pot (I use a dutch oven) and over medium heat, melt 1 cup of butter. Add diced onion, celery and carrot, and, careful not to brown it, sweat until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent and has given off its liquid, about 10 minutes. Add diced potato and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and celery salt and stir to combine. Sauté a minute or two, then add chicken stock and water and bring to a boil.
Once the pot begins to boil, lower heat to simmer for 45 minutes, or until the potato becomes soft. At this point you can choose to keep the soup chunky or purée, whichever you prefer. Add water, if needed, and then the vinegar. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and then add heavy cream.
While the soup is simmering, make the bacon breadcrumbs:
(bacon bread crumbs)
1 lb bacon
1-2 cups panko breadcrumbs (or one loaf of stale french bread, torn into pieces)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
dash (or two or three) of Tabasco
Cook bacon until done, but not too crispy. Set aside on paper towels to drain.
Roughly chop bacon and place in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients for the breadcrumbs. Pulse until breadcrumbs are coarse, with no large chunks of bacon remaining.
Toast for 15 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
Use the breadcrumbs immediately or, after cooling, place in an airtight container and refrigerate up to two days. You can also freeze for up to 2 months.
1 TBSP + 1/4 cup butter, divided
1/2 onion, diced
1 lb russet potato (about 2 potatoes), peeled and shredded in food processor (or grated)
1 TBSP kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
Over medium heat, add butter to medium sized sauté pan. Add onions and sweat until the onion is translucent and soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Line a plate with paper towels. Pat the grated potato dry with additional paper towels then place grated potato in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk egg and then add to grated potato. Add cooked onion, salt, pepper, paprika and flour to the potato and egg and mix completely.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cover the bottom of the pan with a single layer of the potato (or, if you prefer, make little pancakes out of them). Cook until nicely browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes, and then flip over and cook an additional 4-5 minutes on the other side.
Remove from pan and drain on the paper towel lined plate.
Putting it together:
Ladle soup into a bowl and sprinkle lightly with some smoky paprika.
Fry an egg on a non-stick griddle or pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Float a portion of the hash brown (or the little pancake sized piece if that was your method-- which is my preferred method, by the way) on top of the soup.
Using a spatula, place the fried egg on top of the hash brown.
Sprinkle prosciutto breadcrumbs over the soup, hash brown and egg.
Squirt/ swirl some sriracha on top of the whole thing.
*see photo at the top of this post for visual reference.
To recap, this breakfast-palooza was ambitious. It was also sort of ill-conceived and totally an unmitigated shit show, but the food was delicious and everybody had a great time. OK, I don't really know if the food was delicious and that everybody had a great time because I was stuck in the kitchen (yes, by my own design) frying hashbrowns and eggs to order. I was not, however, too busy to have several drinks, which were very much called for. My only regret is that I didn't get a chance to get caught up with my lovely friend who was the impetus for this whole shenanigan in the first place. I guess I'll just have to do it again...
It wasn't quick, it didn't come together flawlessly and I wound up with at least a half of a cup of raw waffle batter on my favorite black dress, but it kind of always ends that way.
I'll post the remainder of the recipes (next up will be morning-after waffles, sometimes referred to as bribery waffles or impress your overnight guest waffles) over the next few posts because even though things came together sort of haphazardly, the individual recipes are all worth doing. Trust me. Because I did eat the leftovers...