Let's be honest, sometimes breakfast can be boring. With back to school season in full swing and work commutes returning to normal, often the most important meal of the day turns into a piece of toast slathered with peanut butter. But there's plenty of protein packed meals that can be prepped ahead of time and warmed up morning of, like this bacon butternut hash.
A large skillet of fall vegetables, crispy bacon pieces and smoked ham that's topped off with melted cheese and two fried eggs, this satisfying dish is perfect for breakfast and dinner. There are a few moving parts to the dish that might make it seem too complex for a morning meal, but most of it can be prepped the night before. The vegetables can be diced and cooked, the butternut squash mixture can be prepared and the bacon and smoked ham can be cooked ahead of time.
Not only is hash a great make-ahead meal, it's also an easy way to use up vegetables and eggs that are about to go bad. Have bell peppers that are starting to brown? Or red onion that has some soft spots? Throw them into the hash. You can even get creative and use veggies not on the ingredients list, like jalapenos for a welcome heat or tomatoes for a subtle sweetness.
Once the prep work is done, all you'll need to do in the morning is fry the eggs, reheat the hash and sprinkle it with cheese. In mere minutes you'll have a filling breakfast for hectic school day mornings.
This recipe is by JeanMarie Brownson and was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.
Step 1: Cook bacon in a large (10-inch) well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove crisp bits and reserve. Leave about 1 tablespoon bacon fat in the pan, and reserve the rest of the fat for later.
Step 2: Put cubed butternut into a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process with on/off turns just until butternut is chopped into rough 1/4-inch pieces. (Alternatively, roughly chop butternut into 1/4-inch pieces with a knife and a cutting board.) Transfer to a bowl; you will have about 6 cups.
Step 3: With the food processor running (no need to wash it), drop 3 cloves of garlic into it to chop. Add red onion and peppers. Roughly chop with on/off turns. (Or chop everything by hand.) Add to butternut along with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon thyme and 1/4 teaspoon rosemary. Mix well.
Step 4: Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the bacon fat in the skillet. Add half of the butternut mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until tender and golden, about 10 minutes or until squash is fork-tender. Remove to a plate. Repeat with another tablespoon of bacon fat and remaining butternut mixture. Transfer to the plate.
Step 5: Add 1 more tablespoon bacon fat to the pan along with ham. Cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in butternut mixture. (Recipe can be made ahead up to this point; refrigerate if it will be longer than 1 hour.)
Step 6: Reheat butternut mixture if necessary over medium heat. Cook over medium-low heat to crisp the bottom, about 5 minutes.
Step 7: Meanwhile, spray 1 large or 2 medium-size nonstick skillet(s) with oil. Heat over medium-high. Carefully crack eggs into skillet. Reduce heat to low; fry eggs sunny side up until whites are set and yolks somewhat set, 3 to 4 minutes.
Step 8: Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over hash and let it melt over medium heat, about 1 minute. To serve, top each portion of the hash with two fried eggs. Sprinkle with reserved crispy bacon.