August Hobo Night: Hot, Cheap and Simple August 6, 2009Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Cooking Challenge, Food, random stuff.
Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.
So I guess that about sums it up, huh? Hot, cheap and simple. Well, except the “hot” part, of course. Or the “cheap” part, for that matter. But still.
How about for August we spice things up a bit? I propose we make a dish with a kick – as hot as we (or our taste testers) can stand it.
Here’s the thing about hot. I like a certain amount of . . . oomph, yes. In fact, while pregnant with Surly Boy, one of my favorite things to eat was this “hot pepper salad” I used to periodically pick up in the deli of a now-defunct grocery store on my way home from work – several different varieties of hot peppers, sliced, dressed with a simple vinaigrette dressing. Do you suppose that might explain a thing or two about Surly Boy’s personality? Anyway, I find that, as I’ve aged, and especially since I quit smoking, I have a bit less tolerance than I used to for hot-and-spicy.
But you know me – always willing to take one for the team. So we thought, you know, it’s been a rough couple of weeks, what we need is some comfort food. Breakfasty comfort food.
And thus, the sausage-egg-and-cheese sandwich. Of course, we start with the sausage. We were inspired by a sausage recipe on another blog to come up with our our own combination.
Meanwhile, Weggies still has pork butts for 99¢ a pound, and a pound of sausage is more than sufficient! We did buy a whole butt, but we divided it and froze it in one pound packages. We kept out the fattiest hunk for our sausage – good sausage needs fat, am I right?
While I was out picking herbs (what, we’re going to use dried in the middle of summer? Perish the thought!), Peeps was gathering together the spices:
- 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. light brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, run through the garlic press
My contribution was a big bunch of sage, and a couple of slightly smaller bunches of thyme and marjoram, freshly picked and plenty of it! We let the meat/spice/herb combination sit in the fridge until it was time to start dinner.
So, Tuesday evening rolls around, and it’s time to start the sausage – Peeps hauled out the meat grinder for this. He asked me to point out that, if you don’t count a meat grinder among your “essential kitchen gear,” this would also work in a food processor. He didn’t want to use the food processor himself, though, because he DOES have a meat grinder.
I divided the pound of newly-minted sausage into four 4-ounce balls, then flattened each into a patty for our sandwiches.
A few miscellaneous pieces to the meal, then we’re ready to begin:
Cheese. You can’t have a sausage-egg-and-cheese sandwich without the cheese, now can you? In keeping with the evening’s “hot, cheap and easy” theme, we used 4 ounces of jalapeño-jack that we’d picked up on sale.
Vegetation. Vegetables are an important part of every meal, and we’re supposed to be eating at least 5 servings a day. And I’ve currently got a bag of Swiss chard in the fridge that needs to get used up! Peeps opted out of the leafy green portion of the program, so I just sauteéd a couple of handfuls to put on my sandwich. Crazy? Maybe, or crazy delicious!
And of course, if you’re going to have sandwiches, you need rolls. Peeps had ended up with some leftover bread dough at work Saturday, which quite handily baked up into four perfect-sized sandwich rolls. He makes the best semolina bread at the shop!
And potatoes. If you’re making breakfast, you have two potato choices – home fries or hash browns. We opted for hash browns. We shredded a couple of russet potatoes, soaked them in cold water (changed the water three times!), and patted them dry before adding an onion, a little salt and pepper, and dumping them into a pan to brown.
NOW we’re ready to start dinner! I always forget how many pans making breakfast dirties!
Homemade hash brown potatoes are so good – but they do take a while, don’t they? I mean besides the hour or so of soaking before you can even start them! We started the potatoes first – they’re going to take the longest. Soften the onions a bit first in a big skillet in a blob of . . . bacon grease! You DO keep a jar of bacon grease around, don’t you?
Let them just cook until they’re nicely browned on one side, then carefully turn them over to continue cooking. You’re probably not going to be able to turn them in one piece – that’s OK. You’ll be doing this a couple of times; the important thing is to just let them brown – don’t be stirring and poking at them.
Meanwhile, I dug out another pan to toast the rolls. Since we’d baked the semolina rolls a couple of days ahead of time (and didn’t think to throw them in the freezer!), they had a bit of a “day-old” quality to them, if you know what I mean. The best tastiest way I know to freshen rolls is to toast them – spread a thin layer of butter on the cut side, then place them on a griddle until they’re just perfectly GBD. At one of the restaurants I used to work in, we served all of our dinner rolls that way . . . mmmmm.
Once browned, I pulled the rolls out of the skillet and covered them to keep them reasonably warm and soft.
The sausage. I flattened the patties, and into the pan they went. It was only a matter of a few minutes to cook the sausage, and did they shrink! (Remember, we used the fattiest hunk of pork for this.) Once the sausage is done, we removed that from the pan and laid 3 slices of our cheese on top to get soft and melty. We fried a couple (4) eggs in the same pan (after draining most of the grease, of course) – nothing special, just your basic fried-egg-sandwich fried eggs.
And I think, along with my sauteéd chard (I feel so virtuous here!), we’re ready to assemble the sandwiches. It’s a good thing, too – we were STARVING!
Then the sausage with the melty cheese. (Next time, I’d put the egg on first.)
Then the egg.
We added our “hotness” of choice at the table.
I opted for some jalapeño rings, to complement the cheese. That, and I keep forgetting about them and really need to use them up! Last fall, I picked up a basked of fresh jalapeños at the market, used what I needed (something like 2 peppers), and watched them start to turn red. . . rather than end up pitching them, I sliced them all, stuck them in some vinegar and shoved them in the back of the fridge to “marinate.” They do come in handy . . . when I remember them!
Peeps, on the other hand, opted to top his egg sandwiches with his homemade sriracha sauce from last fall. That stuff is wicked! Way too hot for me! But hey, he was the one eating it, right?
So if you’re here from the Hobo challenge, you’ve got to be wondering . . . but what about the numbers? Well, here they are for our “You Are What You Eat Breakfast Sandwiches”:
- 1 lb. pork shoulder @ $.99/lb. =$.99
- Fresh sage, thyme & marjoram from herb garden = $.0
- 1 cup Swiss chard from garden = $.0
- 1.25 lb. russet potatoes @ $.40/lb. = $.50
- 1 onion @ 4/$1 = $.25
- 4 oz jalapeño jack cheese @ $2/lb on sale with a coupon = $.50
- Hot pepper condiments dug out of the fridge from last fall = $0
- 4 eggs @ $.89/dozen = $.30
Grand total for 4 servings: $2.24 $2.54 (Yes, we had lunch the next day)
Total per serving: $.56 $.63
Not too shabby for a hobo, eh?
Later note: The sausage itself was super – beautifully herby (the addition of marjoram is great!), with a nice hit of “hot” from the cayenne at the finish. Not too hot – just the right amount of hot! We actually mixed up two more pounds to grind and stick in the freezer . . .
LATER later note: It’s been brought to my attention that I totally missed the eggs in the total, so they’ve been added in now. It was an oversight . . . blame it on cooking, then blogging AFTER coming home from work AFTER returning from 3 days off . . . that, or I’m just an idiot.l