Stories of summer adventures have been shared. Bags are unpacked. The fourth study trip has come and gone. Bottles of wine have been consumed. Assignments are due and classes are in full swing. I have been back in Bra, Italy for two weeks now and slowly I am slipping back into the lifestyle of a student. Spending this weekend switching between reading articles on the Indian diaspora and writing a paper on sustainable agriculture within the Port Wine industry, Sunday arrived with the need for sustenance and a break. What better way to achieve the duality then with brunch.
I love the act of brunch in Italy. It is a perfect blend of the nonchalant demeanor of the Italians with a favorite pastime of America. Markets seem to be designed for brunch as you can acquire beautiful farm fresh eggs, crispy greens, and potatoes still gently covered in earth all from one farmer. One of the delights of going to school with people who are equally as focused on food as I am, is that you are guaranteed that between fridges you have the perfect cocktail for any occasion.
Today we chose to mix fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, Campari, and chestnut honey with a splash of sparkling wine. On the menu was a version of “eggs benedict”. The base was a crispy hash brown pancake, topped with sautéed chard and shallot, adorned with a poached egg. With a breakfast like that and a cup of coffee next to me I am ready to return to my paper…but a nap sure does sound nice…
Procrastination “Eggs Benedict”:
3 large potatoes, peeled and grated
1 bunch of chard, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 large scallion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ c milk (can also use cream)
1/3 c grated cheddar cheese
Rinse the grated potatoes in a colander until the water comes out clear. Press the potatoes to remove any excess water. Season with salt and pepper.
In a skillet, heat a small amount of oil. Add the scallion and the garlic and cook until translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add the chard and sauté for about 8-10 minutes until the chard is wilted. Add the milk, salt and pepper, and cook until the milk is reduced about 8-10 minutes. Add half of the cheese and stir to combine and set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a light boil to poach the eggs.
In a large skillet, heat about 4-5 tablespoons of oil. Add the potatoes to the skillet and gently push to achieve an even layer. Sautee over medium-high heat for about 10-15 minutes until bottom is golden brown.
Slide hash browns onto a plate. Place the skillet upside down over the hash browns and carefully flip the hash browns back into the pan. The crispy brown side should be up. If need be, drizzle an additional 2-3 tablespoons of oil down the sides of the skillet. Continue to cook the hash brown for 10-15 minutes until that side is golden brown as well.
Slide hash browns onto a plate. Sprinkle with a bit of salt. Cut the “pancake” into four wedges. Top with a bit of cheese and divide the chard mixture evenly over each wedge. Top with a poached egg and serve immediately.