The cowboy breakfast, there's simply nothing like it. Upon doing a little research and knowing that this early start to the day needed to be both nourishing and filling, historical context shows it certainly was.
"As it turns out, the term “cowboy breakfast” originated in the old west during the time of the American frontier. The original frontiersmen and women and cowboys were hard working folks and needed a hearty, rib-sticking breakfast to get them through long days working out on the cattle drive or ranch. Frontier breakfasts were often limited by what could be easily stored and transported on the chuck –wagon. Breakfasts were created from dried beans, flour, ground corn, coffee beans, lard, hard-tack crackers and large sides of salt-cured meat. Each morning, the cowboys would cook breakfast in cast iron grills, skillets, and pots over a hot fire. Meals often consisted of hot coffee, a large pot of beans, and biscuits that were baked in a cast iron pot and slathered with lard and gravy", writes the Original Pancake House (Denver, CO).
Skillets today have evolved to the access we now have to fresh and available foods most commonly eaten during this start to the day. Homage however is still given to the early origins and spirit that bore these belly filling breakfasts. Although I wouldn't say this recipe is any lighter in caloric value, it certainly is just as hearty and satisfying.
- 1 ½ lb russet potatoes, peeled, ¾ -inch dice
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 T. butter, unsalted
- 8 oz bacon, diced small (use bell pepper or yellow onion instead for a meatless option)
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 4 ea large eggs
- 1 c. sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ t. salt
- ½ t. black pepper, ground
Heat the oil and butter together in a 10-12inch cast iron skillet or pan over medium heat. Fry the potatoes and cook while stirring occasionally, until golden and crispy (about 20 minutes). Add a touch more oil if needed or adjust heat to avoid too much browning. To speed up cooking time, cover the skillet with a lid, checking the potatoes every 4-5 minutes or so to stir.
Add the bacon pieces (or bell pepper/yellow onion) to the pan and fry while stirring occasionally for 10 minutes until crisp. The potatoes will be golden with crisp edges, while soft on the inside. Add the green onions; stir them through.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula, make four wells in the potatoes and crack an egg into each well and arrange the cheese around each egg. Fry until the whites are set and the eggs are cooked to your liking. Cover again with the lid if you wish to speed up the cooking process as well as to melt the cheese faster. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Adapted from: Cafe Delites