KITCHEN CATASTROPHE 30 – THE WAKE-UP CALL
You know, we here at Kitchen Catastrophe have a bit of a problem. Well, we have quite a few problems, but the one I wanted to bring up right now was what I call “Sexy Food Syndrome”. This thing I’ve just made up goes like People like writing about, and reading about, and generally just care more about ‘sexy’ food. Why is this a problem? Well, there are plenty of foods that aren’t generally considered “sexy” that have real value and merit. Tofu, for instance, is not a very sexy food, but it’s a key to a less-wasteful diet. Seaweed isn’t sexy, but it’s one of the easiest crops to grow, and could be used to end world hunger. And, in perhaps the most systemic issue: no one gives a shit about breakfast.
Think about it. How many breakfast recipes do you know that have 10+ ingredients? “Throw a bunch of stuff in eggs” doesn't count. How many take longer than 30 minutes? Breakfast is not a sexy meal, unless it’s literally post-sex breakfast. Even then, it can be hit-or-miss. And I get it. Dinner is sexy. You have ALL day to think about what you want. To get a craving, to anticipate the meal, to build a sense of seduction. Lunch can be sexy, it’s a break from work, a welcome relief. But breakfast comes just after sleep. You’re tired, not tempted. You just brushed your teeth, so everything’s going to taste weird. You have a time limit, because you’ve got to go to work. It’s a rushed, uncomfortable thing you do because you want to feel better later, not because you really want it now.
Huh. Maybe it’s more like sex than I thought.
We refuse to give that joke a rimshot. What's that? the audience may not know what a rim shot is? Oh, that's easy, it's that "ba dum tish" sou- You tricky bastard.
But, despite that, it’s an IMPORTANT meal. And it’s often in the un-sexy that we find appealing traits. The little things that show us truths. Like, look at me. I’m, in essence, the picture-perfect example of “intellectual wastrel” or “noisome dilettante”, a fact made more obvious by me using SUPER pretentious terms to say “Know-it-All Jack-ass”. But you know what? The only time I can be expected to actually eat a breakfast at a reasonable hour is if I have company over. Because I can live like a goddamn savage, but my guests WILL have something. When I have the time, I’ll pop up an hour early and make pancakes and bacon. The LEAST I will do is ask “You want anything for breakfast?” or “You wanna hit McDonald’s?" I will always try to extend you a courtesy I rarely afford myself.
Anywho, recently, I was in Leavenworth. I’ve been there frequently of late, because, as some of you know, I’m in a play there at the end of August. It’s the first play I’ve ever been paid to act in, and my first paid acting gig outside of Pullman, so I’m very excited for it. In fact, I’ll be spending the entire month of August IN Leavenworth rehearsing and working there, so there’s going to be a sudden change of scenery in my August posts. While in Leavenworth, I tend to stay with my friend Joe, which, if you’ve read CINCO TEQUILAS FOR CINCO DE MAYO and BRING US THE FIGGY PUDDING, you know means another fact about Leavenworth: I tend to spend most of my time there drinking.
This is one evening's worth of alcohol for our group. Of three people.
As thanks to our magnanimous host for letting myself and site Alcohol Editor JJ Hernandez crash on his couch, I offered to make Sunday breakfast. Because Sundays tend to be the only day of the week people DO try for breakfast. I announced I would make Breakfast Sandwiches. I then immediately said “Shit, that’s way too easy. I can’t make a cooking post about this.” And spent five aisles in Safeway muttering to myself, scaring customers until I announced “POTATOES O’BRIEN”. And nodded sagely, to the confusion of the startled shoppers about me.
So I decided to make Sausage breakfast sandwiches, homemade potatoes O’Brien, and some grilled Peaches, because this was late June, and Peaches are delicious.
Now, I’m something of a fan of Potatoes O’Brien, which, if you’re unaware, is diced or chunked potato fried with green and red Bell pepper. The dish is my father’s go-to Sunday side. He buys the Ore-Ida brand bag, tosses it on a skillet, tosses Lawry’s seasoning salt, and cooks to crispness. I thought, “Hey, it’s potatoes, bell peppers, and oil. How hard can it be?”
Hard enough you forgot the GREEN ones, idiot. (I actually just left them out to make things easier)
Not hard, as it turns out. Literally, the hardest part of the dish was cubing the potato. (Note the singular. ONE large potato was totally enough to feed THREE men as a side.) I was using a small knife, and my finger got sore. That was the HARDEST part of this. It’s literally just: cube potato, cut peppers, toss in oil, fry until potatoes taste good. I was AMAZED at how easy this was. Like, I even thought “Crap, these other recipes say to cook the potatoes before frying, mine are gonna have weird texture.” Nope! Raw potato, cooked 20 minutes, turned out fine.
As a fun closing fact for Potatoes O’Brien, no one’s certain where exactly it comes from, or who “O’Brien” is. Two restaurants claim to have invented it around the same time, and the best guess for O’Brien is William Smith O’Brien, who lead a revolt during the potato family, and is likely a reference to the colors of the dish being emblematic of the Irish flag
A Peach of a Side
So I had starchy potatoes, and, as you’ll see, RICH breakfast sandwiches. The logical counterpoint was something bright, sweet, and tart. So I grabbed 3 peaches, cut them in half, and grilled them. This plays into a great facet of all of the parts of this meal: they’re EASY. Even when we’re going that extra mile, no one says it has to be a WHOLE mile.
Grilling peaches had a similar effect to grilling Watermelon: the fruit felt a lot juicier as you bit into it. And the slight charring leads to a more complex flavor, mitigating some of the…huh. I was going to say “citrus”, but Peaches aren’t citrus. They’re stone fruit. The ‘saccharine’ tone, then. That’s a two-dollar word that’ll remind everyone I’m a hoity-hoity prissy boy.
Using Color photographs, talkin' his fancy East Coast talk. Too good to shovel Pig Shit like an honest man... Hold up, when did I become an 1890's farmer?
The Heart of the Meal Stops the Heart of the Man
So, we had the sides. But what of the main event? Well, for the entrée, I went pretty far afield.
Your average breakfast sandwich is bacon, ham, or sausage, a slice of American cheese, a fried egg, and an English muffin. I started by reminding everyone that, as a man of Irish, French, and Scottish descent, the only thing my ancestors agreed on was FUCK THE ENGLISH. So, of course, I replaced the English muffin with bagels. Specifically, jalapeno-cheddar bagels and everything bagels. I knew a breakfast sandwich can be thick, so I wanted sharp flavors. So I also decided on garlic-herb jack cheese, to further cut the sandwich.
The filling was sausage. Because, of all the breakfast sandwich filling options, it’s the least healthy. You really just cook it to the package specs. Cut around 1/6th of a pound off, flatten it out, and fry it.
Why is this a picture of un-fried sausage? Did you forget step three again, you lumbering oaf?
Fry some eggs in the sausage grease, slap them between the halves of a bagel with a slice of garlic cheese, ladle up some potatoes and pick yourself a peach, and you’ve got a dynamite breakfast. I’m not saying we’re starting a breakfast revolution here at Kitchen Catastrophe. I’m just saying, maybe it’s time we all woke up.
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NEXT TIME: JON’S BACK TO HIS DICTIONARY THING. HE KEEPS GIGGLING IN FRENCH.
Homemade Potatoes O’Brien.
1 large russet potato
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper (optional)
1 medium onion
Vegetable oil. (just enough to coat, roughly 1-2 tbsp)
Preferred spices (I recommend salt, pepper, and paprika)
- Cube the potato to 1/8th inch cubes. Cut the bell pepper(s), into slightly larger chunks, and chop the onion. Toss all ingredients with spices and vegetable oil.
- Heat a skillet to medium, and cook mixed ingredients for roughly 20 minutes, or until potatoes have crisp exteriors and creamy interiors.
2 peaches (preferably not quite ripe, but ripe is fine)
- Preheat grill to high. Cut peaches in half, and remove stone. Brush cut side with vegetable oil.
- Grill, cut side down, roughly 5-7 minutes, until distinct char lines are present. Serve warm.
Decadent Sausage Breakfast Sandwich
1 pound ground sausage.
1 package bagels
6 slices preferred cheese.
- If not pre-cut, slice your bagels. Divide sausage into 6 patties, roughly the width of the bagels. (Aim for around ¼” thick.)
- Place the patties in a cold pan, and turn the heat to medium. Cook 10-12 minutes, until browned, flipping occasionally. Remove from pan, and set in bagels.
- Fry eggs in the pan, working in batches of three. Place cheese on top of eggs as they finish, to melt.
- Place cheese and egg combo on top of sausage, and close bagels. Serve warm.