Monster Mash

This is an addendum to my hashbrowns page specifically dedicated to the execution of the monster mash. Be careful not to brown anything in this dish except the hashbrowns or it will be dark and a little less pleasant.

Here's a letter I send out to chefs giving me a hand cooking up this recipe for hundreds of people, something that happens occasionally.

The monster mash is the Cadillac® of breakfast "casseroles" or "skillets."

Yield

If you keep to the proportions here, your mash will feed roughly one person for every one or two eggs included.

Ingredients

3 lbs shredded Russet potatoes, browned
1 lb thin sliced bacon, well cooked and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped and clarified
peppers (several jalapeño and/or 1 bell pepper)
¼ lb Paris (common) mushrooms, thin-sliced and browned
1 doz eggs, scrambled very lightly
1 lb cheddar cheese, finely grated

Preparation

Brown the potatoes on a lightly greased griddle. Place them in an even pile using up the griddle and piled 1" to 2" thick. Cut up small slices of butter a little befor turning and distribute them across the top of the browns. Turn the browns once only, do not toss or otherwise play with them.

The hashbrowns can cook while preparing the remainder of the ingredients. As soon as they have begun cooking on their second side for a couple of minutes, you can begin to "set aside" these other ingredients as they're cooked by spreading them across the top of the already cooked side of the browns. (Afterward, you'll toss.)

1. Fry bacon until well done. Drain and blot on paper towel. Cut into coarse pieces and set aside.

2. Clarify onion until just beginning to brown. To do this, put a little butter in a lidded skillet and begin to sautée 2 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of water and cover. Cook until clarified, renewing the water, and just beginning to brown. Set aside.

3. Chop the peppers into equal-sized chunks, not minced, but not too coarse (depending on taste). Sautée lightly for three to five minutes in butter skillet, adding a little water at the end and covering with a lid. Do not over-cook or reduce them to mush. To keep them fresh-tasting, err a little on the side of under-done. Set aside.

Esthetics are obviously enhanced if you use one bell pepper's worth of two or more colors of peppers.

4. Sautée the mushrooms in butter until browned. Set aside.

5. Lightly scramble the egg in butter not allowing any of it to dry out. Keep it folding (best done using a temperature-tolerant scraper or silicone spatula). When barely no longer liquid (or just a bit liquid), remove from heat and distribute on cooked side of hashbrowns and other ingredients on the griddle. (Eggs continue cooking even after you've removed them from the heat: you may be concerned they're underdone, but they likely will not be whereas if you cook them all the way to how you want them, they'll be inedible by the time you serve them.)

6. Turn off griddle. Sprinkle the grated cheese over everything and carefully "toss" to mix everything. Serve immediately.

Additional tips

- Be careful not to scorch the hashbrowns. Use enough butter/oil to bring them into contact with your griddle so that they brown as evenly as possible rather than blacken at little points here and there. This happens frequently when using frozen potatoes.

- If grating your own potatoes, rinse away all the starch you can and remove all the water you can. See my hashbrown rant.

- Cook them until just barely golden brown on both sides. This will be under-done as compared to what you'd do if cooking them for serving separately. If they're over-done, the dish will be darker and less appealing.

- Remember: don't play with the hashbrowns. They'll turn to mush and begin to taste soapy if you do. Turn them once and leave them alone.

- You can thaw frozen hashbrowns and put them into a collander to drain away water. Be careful not to allow them to rust before getting them on the griddle!

- You can prepare the bacon the night before including cooking. You can prepare the other ingredients too, but cook nothing other than the bacon until just before serving breakfast.