Tonight, I decided to clean out the refrigerator/pantry. The goal was to have dinner on the cheap and experiment with an interesting mix of ingredients. The selection I ended up putting on the counter was as follows:
Colby Jack Cheese
What popped into my strange, crazy mind was some type of hash as I have been craving hash browns of late. I began by slicing one potato into very small chunks so that they would cook faster. I added these to a hot pan with some olive oil.
After a few minutes, I threw in the pancetta, set the flame to medium low and covered. After a minute or so, I stirred the pot, adding some salt and pepper, fresh sage, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. I really didn’t want to over power the dish so I added the herbs sparingly to taste. I then cranked up the heat and let physics/science do the rest.
Once the potatoes were cooked to my liking, I added two eggs and stirred. While the eggs were cooking, I sliced up the two types of cheese into small chunks and tossed them in. I turned off the heat and covered the pan. While the cheese was melting, I diced up the avocado into small cubes and set aside.
Once the cheese melted, it was time to serve. What resulted was a big sticky mess that really didn’t look all that appetizing. Of course, you can’t judge a book by its cover! I took a large spoonful and dropped it into a bowl. I then dropped the diced avocado over the top and plopped down in front of my computer for a taste test!
Well… it certainly tastes better than it looks. The italian seasoning and light garlic flavor complemented the potato well. The sage was one of those mysterious flavors that really makes you think, “what is that flavor”. The pancetta added some great contrast to the potato, both in terms of texture and flavor. The best of all was the pop that you got with the avocado. As much as it seemed out of place in the dish, I really think it came out the star ingredient.
What would I change? I would add some different herbs, maybe some basil. In addition, I would cook the potatoes a lot longer until they were crispier. I would also hold off on putting in so much cheese, especially the provolone. I might even add some type of vegetable to it, perhaps a bell pepper or even asparagus. Some seeded tomatoes might even put this one out of the ballpark.
Overall, I give this experiment a thumbs up. This combination of ingredients would not have been my first choice, but with some creativity, dinner came out as a new experience and there are a fewer things in the refrigerator.
I call it Italian Breakfast Hash because of the pancetta and herbs I used and hash is usually served at breakfast, at least in the US. You could easily swap out the pancetta for American style bacon or sausage. Although, you might have to reconsider the herbs you add. I don’t sage would be good with bacon.
I encourage everyone to try this type of experimentation. Not only do you learn more about how to cook certain foods, but you can get to know which ingredients compliment each other.