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Recipe – Sweet potato and black bean hash

IMG_3069This is delicious by itself, with rice, as a taco or quesadilla filling, or, if you want to combine it with some scrambled eggs and a little cheese, in a breakfast burrito. Sour cream goes nicely with it, especially if you get it too spicy. ;) Although it’s very good (and rich and filling) with the bacon, I don’t think you strictly need it. If you prefer to go vegetarian, just increase the other oil and leave the bacon out; it’ll still be good.

This, much more than the last recipe, will give you a peek into how I generally cook. (Spoiler: Makin’ it all up as I go.) I started out to make basically this, but I didn’t bother to look it back up (or I’d have known I had WAY too many sweet potatoes :)); also, I knew I was going to substitute some coconut oil in place of some of the bacon fat.* If olive oil is your thing, do that instead; just keep an eye on the temperature so it doesn’t smoke.

About halfway through cooking it, I changed my mind and decided to make something spicier, a little more like Mexican food and a little less like Southern food; hence, beans and all the spices past the sage. I was working from my recollection of something I liked to order back when I lived in Pittsburgh, at a (now sadly closed) restaurant called The Quiet Storm, and I think I got the spice combo right. But I wish I’d measured, so that I could share exact amounts with you. Below are my estimates.

Ingredients:

  • 32 oz sweet potatoes, minus a few weird-looking chunks
  • 1 lb bacon (minus a few strips that became breakfast), drained, but reserve the fat
  • 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed
  • ~3 Tbsp coconut oil + ~1Tbsp bacon fat; you can add more if it starts sticking to the pan too badly
  • sage – fresh is pretty great, dried is fine; I used 4 fresh leaves plus probably a teaspoon of dried
  • chili powder – at least a teaspoon, probably more like 2
  • onion powder – just a dash
  • garlic powder – a dash
  • oregano – about a teaspoon?
  • cayenne – maybe 1/4-1/2 tsp, depending how spicy you want to go
  • salt – to taste
  • a little water

Method:

If you didn’t buy pre-cut sweet potatoes, peel and chop yours. It will cook faster if you shred them, rather than cutting them into cubes. I like having them cubed, but I think I watched three episodes of a TV show on my cookbookiPad while this was cooking, just so you know.

Cook the bacon however you like to cook bacon. I used a skillet, patted the cooked bacon dry with a paper towel, and then poured all of the fat from the skillet into a measuring cup. I gave the bacon time to cool and ate some breakfast. :) You will eventually want to chop the bacon into little pieces, but you’ll have time for that while the sweet potatoes cook.

Put a little bit of the bacon grease (maybe 1Tbsp, maybe a smidge more) back into your skillet with the coconut oil. It’s going to look like too much oil, but 32 oz of sweet potatoes will eat a LOT of oil while they cook. Let the oil get good and hot (I kept the burner on medium the whole time), and if you’re using fresh sage, drop the leaves in and let them sizzle for just a bit before you dump in the sweet potatoes. Dried sage can go in a little later.

Get the sweet potatoes covered in oil, and then let them heat. You’ll want to stir them up every so often, maybe every 5 or so minutes if you’re an antsy cook like me. For something more like hashbrowns, you want to be more patient.

Chop up your bacon. Once the sweet potatoes are hot — not even cooked through, just hot — it’s cool to add the spices and throw the bacon back in.

About 15 minutes after you add the spices and the bacon, go ahead and add the (rinsed and drained) beans. You’ll want to add water (maybe about a third of a cup?) from time to time, after the beans go in, because they’re prone to drying out.

When everything’s all cooked through, or you’re bored and just want to finish it in the microwave, it’s done. :)

* If you use locally grown bacon from happy pigs that aren’t eating corn, probably using all the bacon fat is a fine choice, but I wasn’t. I’m sorry. One of the perks of having a full-time job again is going to be a return to buying more locally and more ethically, just in general; but for now, I just do what I can. (back)

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