Despite the drawbacks of having a semi-permanent houseguest, namely my sister, who is in a “transitional phase,” there is one major benefit. Breakfast. Her innate ability to whip up a little bowl of eggy deliciousness is unparalleled, and it makes up for the twelve enormous canvases that have consumed all of our wall space (she’s a painter without a studio). The inspiration for her early morning creations is usually the previous night’s dinner. One would think the recurrence of a meal in a twelve-hour period is somewhat unappealing, but my sister manages to turn last night’s leftovers into a dish that often trumps the original. For instance, a pulled pork taco dinner was magically transformed into a skillet hash made with charred fresh corn, sautéed onion, pulled pork and a fried egg topped with a little grated manchego. Or, recently, she chopped up a couple leftover hamburgers and sautéed them with sweet onions, wilted arugula, red pepper flakes and a broken-up fried egg, topped with grated parmesan and fresh parsley. The basic principle is that you take the leftover meat and vegetables and dice them into bite-size pieces. Then sauté the ingredients in some fat (olive oil, butter, duck fat, bacon) with aromatics like onions, garlic, leeks or shallots. Fry a few eggs, sunny-side up in a separate fry pan. Distribute the reconstituted leftovers into a few bowls and slide an egg right on top. Lastly, grate some cheese over the egg and sprinkle with some fresh herbs. It’s a magnificent way to reinvent the wheel.
The Morning After (serves four)
3 strips bacon, chopped up
1 small yellow onion
1 1/2 pound cooked hamburger
1/2 bunch arugula, cleaned and stems removed
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
1 handful fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 pinch red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until transparent. Then add the hamburger meat and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes. In a separate non-stick frying pan, warm the butter over medium heat. Then crack four eggs side by side into the pan. Cook until sunny-side up, separate the eggs and then remove the pan from the heat. Get out four bowls, divide the hamburger hash among the bowls and then slide an egg on top of each. Grate parmesan on each egg and finish with a few leaves of parsley. Serve with buttered toast.