Sunday, January 06, 2008

Potato and Sausage Breakfast Popover Casserole

Impossible Pie --a popular dish of the 1970’s--uses an eggy biscuit batter to create both a crust and filling for a quiche-like casserole. We wondered if we could retool this recipe with a crisper popover batter. Here’s what we discovered:

To rise and expand properly, popovers need intense heat to turn the moisture in the batter to steam. Achieve this by preheating both the oven and the pan. To save time, we cooked Yukon Gold potatoes in the microwave, and browned them quickly in a skillet. To make sure they stayed crisp, we placed them on top of the popover batter.

Serves 6

2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
Salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter , melted
2 scallions , chopped
3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 (12-ounce) package bulk sausage meat
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare 9-inch springform pan as shown in photos, and set aside on rimmed baking sheet.

2. Whisk eggs, milk, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in bowl until well combined. Stir in flour until just incorporated--the mixture will still be a bit lumpy. Whisk in butter until batter is smooth. Stir in scallions and set batter aside while preparing filling.

3. Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon water in large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, cut vent holes in plastic, and microwave on high power until potatoes just begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, cook sausage in large nonstick skillet over medium heat, breaking up clumps, until meat has lost most of its pink color, about 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, spread sausage evenly over bottom of prepared springform pan.

4. Heat oil in skillet with sausage fat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add potatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until potatoes are golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain potatoes on paper towels.

5. While potatoes are cooking, place springform pan with sausage in oven for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and, working quickly, sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over sausage and pour batter evenly over filling. Scatter potatoes on top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake until puffed and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven, run knife around edges of pan, and let cool 5 minutes. Release outer ring and, using spatula, transfer casserole to serving plate. Serve.

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