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what meal is it?

I have taken to tying my hair up with ribbon at night. And, I just painted my fingernails a restful shade of lavender. I don’t have nice hands (I know, oh my… some people do, some don’t- I don’t) and I don’t have long nails (what a pain) but what I do have now are *purple* stubs of nails that look strangely adolescent.

Tonight we had Breakfast Burgers, a corrupted interpretation of a delicious experience I had in a Denny’s restaurant somewhere in northern New York this past October. I was with a literal busload of Amish people and we stopped to get lunch, I picked the most calorie-dense food I could find – a quarter pound burger covered with hash browns, cheese and bacon, then crowned with a golden, runny-yolked egg. Yum. “What meal *is* this?” I thought, “It has the best of All Three!” It almost needs a new meal category; not breakfast, not lunch, not quite dinner- What meal is it?

I thought my heart was going to clog up and stop, but I didn’t care much, it was easily one of the best things I have ever eaten. Ever. I was missing my boyfriend, lost in New York and the only one with lime green toenails in the bunch- it was one of those times when a heart-stopping meal was very appropriate. I promised myself that one day I would attempt to recreate this fabulously decadent meal.

Well, one day came today. I began plotting last week. Alex is taking me on a short vacation this weekend (woot woot) and we are trying to eat up all the fresh food this week before we leave, so everything has been weighed out and carefully planned. I had the beef, the eggs, the potatoes, the cheese, the bacon (which we don’t use, but I like the thought of it tucked away in the back of the freezer for a rainy day. It’s rather like the baby tooth you keep hoarded in an old box as the symbol of childhood past.) and the time to put it all together, PLUS it would use up some of the food that needed to be eaten. I warned my husband that this would probably be the most impressively bad meal he had ever eaten, but if he breathed easy and appreciated the fact that there was no bacon, he would Enjoy It. I made some alterations to the recipe as I remembered it to try to add depth and take away cholesterol, and this is what I came up with….

Breakfast Burgers – Ann Style

1 lbs lean ground beef (don’t skimp, get the good stuff, 85% fat-free or higher)

1 medium onion, shredded or sliced thinly

2 potatoes, shredded

4 eggs

4 slices of cheese (I used Vermont’s own Cabot Cheddar)

4 slices of bread (used to make toast, this is optional however)

4 slices of bacon (also optional)

1 tsp garlic

1 tsp apple pie spice (just wait, it works)

salt and pepper to taste

This makes four servings.

This meal is best approached in steps. Trust me now, I thought this out long and hard for days (because I am dense like that), steps works best. It’s like a list, and Lists Are Awesome. BUT, if you can think short and easy and come up with something better than what I have discovered, please, please, please- share your wisdom.

Step One: The potatoes. Wash them, peel them if you want and then shred them. I did this early on in the day and kept them in a bowl of cold water in the fridge. The onion is going to be peeled and shredded as well and added to the potatoes. These two foundations of cookery hung out in the cooler all day while I got my errands done.

Step Two: The burger. The beef should be mixed with the garlic, spices and a little bit of salt and pepper. I am not sure where I got the idea to add the sweet spices to the beef except that I was thinking of French Toast at the time, and how well those spices seem to go with breakfast. I mean, think of sausage- it’s got a ton of sweet spices in it, and we always eat it with maple syrup and eggs- don’t we? I heard that’s what people in Vermont do anyway… This step was also completed in the morning (or, my morning, which was more like two in the afternoon) then the meat was formed into four thin patties of Equal Size and left in the fridge to visit with the potatoes and onions.

Step Three: The Construction. This is an impressive meal to put together, but it comes off like a charm and looks really cool when you’re done. Firstly, the potatoes and onions need a while to cook. If they’ve been swimming in the fridge all day, they must be drained and then patted dry. You could conceivably cook them all at once in a big skillet, but I have a slight obsession with crispy spuds, so I fried mine in four small ‘batches’ so that they made flat potato ‘cakes’. Yum. It would be awesome if you had a Fry Daddy and could deep fry them. Double Yum. During this time, you are going to want to cook and drain the bacon too, if you want bacon. This step could probably be done earlier in the day and the bacon reheated when needed.

When I had half the potatoes done and waiting on the side, I started to cook the burgers. Since I used very lean meat, and didn’t want to use a bunch of fat to fry the burgers in, I just put a little bit of water in the bottom of another frying pan and waited for it to boil and then cooked the burgers in that. Now, you’re not Boiling the Burgers, heaven help us, the water in the pan is only to keep them from sticking until the burgers themselves can produce a little fat and moisture, and then they can be drained and you lose a good deal of the fat from the meat. Hmmmm. That’s a little tip I got from my mama.

So, the burgers are almost done, the last batch of potatoes is being removed from their happy pan, the cheese has been sliced, the eggs have been gathered from the chicken coop (not really, I got mine from the fridge where, thank God, there are no chickens) and you’re about ready to put this show together! How exciting… At this point my husband was lured in to the kitchen by the incredible scents, I ranted and raved and got slightly emotional about something I can’t quite remember, and we had a short dance. If you want toast, this would have been the perfect time to be doing that. If you opt out of toast, go ahead and dance. The bacon is now going on to the burgers and you’re going to let the cheese faint right over the whole thing, the eggs are broken into the now empty potato pan (I love it when I can multi-purpose cooking equipment) and are frying away. Ideally, the eggs should have runny yolks, but if that doesn’t float your boat, feel free to poach them, scramble or fry them over-hard.

Last Step: The finale. Put on dramatic music, or anything that is going to add to the momentousness of the occasion. Here’s how it goes: Toast. Burger with bacon and cheese. A portion, or cake, of hash browns. An egg. Viola. Ours didn’t have toast or bacon, so I layered the burgers on the hash browns, then the cheese, then the egg.

It’s a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Forever, because it will take you that long to exercise all that off.

It’s so worth it, though. That first bite should be the best, make sure to get a little bit of everything drenched in yolk. Oh. My. Word. It’s incredible.

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One thought on “what meal is it?

"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook." Julia Child

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