Ham, chilies and potatoes make tasty Mother’s Day brunch

Story by Lynne Char Bennett
(San Francisco Chronicle)
Mon, Apr 30, 2012
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For many moms, Mother’s Day is celebrated with brunch at a restaurant or breakfast in bed. I don’t often brunch formally, but I heartily applaud an occasional late rising preceded by a weekend newspaper, a low-fat cappuccino and something eggy to hold me until a later afternoon-ish lunch.

Potato, Poblano & Ham Bake is just right for a leisurely weekend morning or brunch. You can prepare and assemble everything the night before except the eggs, which are whisked with a little sour cream and butter, then poured over the other ingredients and baked.

Roasting and peeling the chiles intensifies the poblano flavor. You can also substitute asparagus.

Cooking thin potato slices in well-salted water keeps them from turning gray and allows them to be completely tender when the eggs are done. Add onion, small pieces of ham — already-sliced deli ham cuts down on the chopping — and grated cheese, if you like, and the dish is ready to be stored overnight in the refrigerator.

The butter and sour cream enrich the eggs, add flavor, soften the texture and help keep them from overcooking. You can cut back if you want less fat, but keep a close eye as the dish bakes so the eggs don’t become hard and dry.

POTATO, POBLANO AND HAM BAKE

This brunch do-ahead dish can be tailored to taste by substituting ingredients: thinly sliced asparagus, spring peas or par-cooked Swiss chard for the poblano chile; cooked bacon, sausage or baked tofu for the ham.

  • 2 large poblano chiles
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 to 6 ounces deli ham, chopped, about 1 cup
  • 2 ounces grated Gruyere cheese, about 1/2 cup (optional)
  • 10 large eggs
  • 5 tablespoons sour cream or creme fraiche
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (optional)

Char the poblanos over a gas flame or under a broiler, turning frequently until skin has blackened. Place chile in a plastic bag or bowl covered with plastic wrap. Allow to steam briefly until slightly cooled, then remove and discard skin and seeds (avoid rinsing to retain the most flavor). Chop poblano into small pieces and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and have a bowl of cold water nearby. Cut potatoes into 1/8-inch-thick slices —use a mandoline if you have one. Immediately place slices in the bowl of water to keep them from oxidizing and to remove any excess starch.

Working in batches, separate potato slices as you add them to the boiling water; cook just until potatoes are tender and fully cooked but the pieces still hold together. Remove and place in the cold water, drain well and set aside.

Butter a 3-quart baking dish. Add a single layer of potato slices, season with salt and pepper, then scatter on some of the poblano, ham and some cheese, if using. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up, ending with a little poblano and ham on top. Wrap well and refrigerate. The recipe can be made to this point a day ahead.

To finish: Place the rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator. Whisk together the eggs, sour cream, melted butter and herbs, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over the potato and other ingredients and bake until eggs have just set, about 35-40 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

Per serving: 224 calories, 10 grams protein, 13 grams carbohydrate, 15 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 237 milligrams cholesterol, 225 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

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