In my experience, it’s usually better than the main event. That was the case this weekend.
I have a gentleman* friend that I like to cook with/for every week or two and he came over last night for what I thought was going to be an awesome dude-friendly meal: Beer Cheese Soup, Beer Braised Brats, Spent Beer Grain Bread, Roasted Potatoes, Roasted Squash and Wine Braised Chard.**
It was OK***, but not up to my expectations or standards, which is always disappointing. But when you give yourself lemons**** for dinner, make lemonade for breakfast!
What follows isn’t so much a recipe, but more a general approach to improvisational cooking which, if I’m to be honest, is where I’m at my best.
Improvised Boozy Breakfast Hash (feeds 1 – me)
There’s almost nothing better than pan-fried, day old roasted potatoes. Chop up a couple and toss them in a skillet with a smidge of olive oil.
Bratwurst. That’s really a sausage, right? And it was really good last night, so chop one of those up and add it to the potatoes.
Hey, there’s some beer braised onions left from the brats! Awesome, throw a scoop of that in there because the potatoes are starting to stick.
Ok, this is getting meat & starch heavy. A spoonful of the swiss chard will take care of that – and add a scoop of squash for color. Pretty! Toss it all around til it’s nice and hot and a little crispy then put it in a bowl.
Sunday breakfast requires eggs, right? Put a little butter in the hot, recently vacated skillet, crack an egg in there and cover. Don’t cook it too long or the yolk won’t be runny. Top bowl of hash with fried egg.
You know, I bet that damn soup would work better as a sauce. Heat up a quarter cup of the disaster and drizzle it over the egg. Top with leftover minced parsley and serve with a slice of the bread.
Ahhhhh, that’s much better! Redemption!
* Cooking for men is more fun than cooking for women. I don’t know why. My girlfriends are always more complimentary and seem to take greater pleasure in the things I make for them, even though they are all great cooks themselves. Maybe that’s the key to it – most of the men I know don’t give out compliments easily and I find the challenge to impress is inviting.*****
** OK, the chard and the squash were really for me, not the dude – he didn’t touch either of them. What is up with dudes and vegetables? Insert puzzled shrug and confused head shake here.
*** Overall, the flavors of the meal were very good and went together well; what failed was execution. The soup was too rich and I ruined it with cheese curds******, the bread was close but a little under-cooked and dense, the potatoes and squash were just roasted with olive salt and pepper, and the chard was just braised in some cooking sherry with onions and garlic so nothing special there either.
**** Actually, it wasn’t all lemons. I have to say the gentleman friend did a great job grilling the brats, they were perfect.
***** Or maybe my girlfriends are just being nice and my cooking just isn’t as good as I think it is?*******
.****** Guess what doesn’t really melt? Cheese curds! Who knew? Sigh.
******* Oh haell no, y’all! My kitchen business is elite!