I have told you that brunch is my favorite meal of the day, and winter is perhaps the high point for brunch. But while I am looking forward to these sleepy morning meals, I have to admit that many brunch recipes are too sweet for me. If this sweet monkey bread with a gooey glaze showed up it certainly wouldn't go to waste, but I would need something else too, something to nourish and satisfy. I need something savory to start the day off right.
The other requirement for a good brunch recipe, of course, is that it be easy to make ahead. Because who can roll out dough and fry potatoes before breakfast? Not me. So I must tell you about my make-ahead favorite recipe for a big family brunch: savory, garlicky sweet potato hash, roasted with sausage and rosemary, and baked the next day with eggs on top.
This entire thing is made ahead. (No chopping sweet potatoes at 9 a.m.) In the morning you spread the refrigerated hash in a big pan, and crack a few eggs on top. Slide it into a hot oven, and go make coffee. When you come back the potatoes will be hot and crisped, and the eggs just baked. Easy, nourishing, delicious — your kitchen will smell amazing, and you'll be ready to serve a crowd.
And don't worry — you'll still have plenty of room for something sweet, too.
This recipe is also very vegetarian-friendly. You can leave the sausage out entirely, or substitute Soy-Rizo or another vegetarian sausage. And it's flexible; the proportions are all quite forgiving.
A couple other small notes: I leave the potato skins on, for convenience and for flavor, so I really do prefer organic potatoes given that their skins are staying on. Also, if you can find Italian sausage with fennel seed, scoop it up for this dish; it's delicious with the sweet potatoes.
This feeds at least eight, and I think it really could be stretched to more, depending on how many eggs you bake, and what else is served. I'm thinking of this with cream cheese braids, some fruit, and coffee. Brunch heaven!
Sweet Potato Hash with Caramelized Onions, Sausage & Eggs
yellow onions (about 2 large)
unsalted butter or ghee
uncooked Italian sausage or Mexican chorizo, casings removed
sweet potatoes (about 3 large)
large cloves garlic
long fresh rosemary stems
kosher salt, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
- To serve:
or more large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 450°F. Peel the onions and cut them in half lengthwise, then cut them into thin half-moons. Cut the half-moons in half. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it foams up, add the onions and sprinkle lightly with salt. (Don't worry if they are crammed into the pan; they will rapidly cook down.) Lower the heat slightly and cook, stirring occasionally and lowering the heat further if they seem to be burning, until they are very dark brown and caramelized, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the sausage.
Place the sausage in another skillet and brown over medium-high heat, chopping it up into fine crumbles with a spatula. Cook the sausage until browned and beginning to crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain away any excess fat.
While the onions and sausage are cooking, chop the unpeeled sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a large bowl. Finely mince the garlic and rosemary leaves, and them to the bowl of sweet potatoes, and toss to combine. Add the olive oil, kosher salt, and a generous helping of black pepper, and toss to combine.
Add the onions and sausage to the sweet potatoes and stir to combine. Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, transfer the sweet potato mixture onto it, and spread it out evenly. Roast until the sweet potatoes are soft and browned, 30 to 45 minutes (roasting time depends on the size and uniformity of the sweet potato chunks, as well as the variety of sweet potato you buy).
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F. Spread a relatively thin layer of the sweet potato hash in a baking dish, such as a cast iron skillet or a 9x13-inch baking dish. You can also bake in individual ramekins. Make small wells in the sweet potatoes and crack an egg into each well. Sprinkle the eggs lightly with salt and pepper.
Bake until the sweet potatoes are hot and the eggs are baked through, 10 to 20 minutes. (Test the eggs by prodding them with a fork to check the firmness of the white and the yolk; baked eggs are deceptive in that the white often looks much less cooked than it really is.)
Serve immediately, with shavings or sprinkles of Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Alternate method: Some of the commenters felt that roasting the sweet potatoes with the cooked sausage made the sausage too crispy and even a bit burnt. Personally, I like the sausage very crispy and dark, and I also like the flavor of the sweet potatoes when they're cooked with the sausage. But this is up to you — you can roast the sweet potatoes separately while cooking the sausage and onions, which also speeds up the cooking process.
Make ahead: You can cook the sausage and onions a day ahead of time and refrigerate or even freeze them until you are ready to cook the sweet potatoes. The baked hash can also be refrigerated for up to 1 day before adding the eggs.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.