Thursday, May 22, 2014

Week 20 - Diner/Drive-In Breakfast

For many people, a visit to a diner means all day breakfast. It doesn't matter if you go at 11 am or 11 pm. You can get a Western omelette with home fries. You can get pancakes or French toast. So for the Week 20 challenge, how could we not honor the diner tradition of breakfast at all hours by making some breakfast of our own?

One thing we always order at diners is corned beef hash, which often comes with eggs over easy and toast. We also like diner omelettes and home fries, but I already made an omelette back in Week 1, so I didn't want to make another one. Mashing them together, corned beef hash, eggs, and home fries would be our meal!


The two "easiest" elements of our diner "breakfast" dinner were the corned beef hash and the fried eggs.

I fried up one egg for each of us (total cost $0.86, $0.23 for each egg plus about $0.40 for the olive oil for frying). It was actually my first time frying eggs and I tried to not overdo it so the yolks would stay a little runny. I read a lot of articles about how different people like to fry eggs, all of which had different techniques, but I think in the spur of the moment, I didn't even follow the same method for both eggs and just winged it. I think they turned out okay though, especially for a first try. Just cooked for a little too long, but the yolks were still mostly runny.

I know the challenge is about making things from scratch, but the corned beef hash was coming out of a can ($2.49 on sale) for this meal. I don't really cook red meat at home, and was not about to make corned beef hash from scratch. Besides, the stuff at diners usually tastes like it comes out of giant cans and is not homemade, so I thought I'd try to be authentic and just pop the corned beef hash out of a can too. The Hormel/Mary Kitchen stuff did taste the same as the ones at the diners, but the only difference is they get that nice crusty layer on the bottom since they use a griddle. Cooking it in a pan, I just wasn't able to get that same browning. Not as good, but the same flavor.


The one part of the meal that I did make from scratch was the home fries, aka breakfast potatoes. Diners make a special kind of home fries that is hard for me to describe. The potatoes are soft but still have some clumps of solid potato, and it's like they're all thrown on the griddle to mix with peppers and onions. I couldn't really find a recipe to match that (and we don't have a griddle), so I went with our next best option: some delicious home fries, based on what the Pioneer Woman calls the "best breakfast potatoes ever."

To make the potatoes, I used:

- 3 large Russet potatoes ($2.31)
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced ($0.10)
- 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped ($0.60)
- 1 green pepper, roughly chopped ($1.05)
- 1 red pepper, roughly chopped ($0.66)
- 1 bunch of scallions, roughly chopped ($0.43)
- 1/4 cup olive oil ($0.70)
- 2 tbsp melted butter ($0.50)
- 1 tsp salt ($0.05)
- 1 tsp black pepper ($0.05)
- 1 tsp paprika ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp onion powder ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.05)

The total cost was about $6.65. Scallions weren't in the original recipe and weren't really necessary, but we had 2 batches of scallions in the fridge that I had completely forgotten about and which were starting to go bad, so I just threw them in. They added nothing, so they will not be added again.

The breakfast potatoes were easy to make, but just took some time to prep and bake. Also, prepare for the kitchen to get really hot since the potatoes roast at a really high temperature.

First, you prep all the ingredients and mix everything together in a large bowl.

Lay everything out in baking sheets or baking pans. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. During this time, take them out twice and stir everything around.

Last, raise the heat to 500 degrees for 20 minutes, and just like last time, toss everything twice during that period.

We ended up with a big bowl of delicious roasted potatoes, peppers, and onions. For me, they had a nice zing to them from the cayenne pepper and other spices, in addition to the natural flavor of the roasted vegetables. A got the potato and vegetable flavors, but didn't get as much spice as I did and thought there should be some more seasoning. Maybe I didn't mix it as well as I thought...

We were happy with our breakfast plate. We have 3 more cans of corned beef hash that we picked up from the sale, so we may be doing this again!

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