Sometimes it's fun to swerve from the typical evening-meal lineup toward breakfast for dinner. And by breakfast, I don't mean Froot Loops - but a hearty, diner-style meal.
This recipe touches all the bases. It has crisped potato pancakes, with your choice of grated root vegetables mixed in (beets will turn the pancakes pink) and a smoky protein, here in the form of salmon, but Canadian bacon could stand in.
As for the eggs, I prefer to fry them because I love the way the yolk breaks on top of each pancake, forming a yummy sauce. If you're worried about how to fry eight eggs quickly and efficiently, recruit - maybe one of the kids - to break an egg into a small bowl. Then you can slip it into the pan while your partner breaks the next egg.
Or you could scramble the eggs instead. Whisk them well with a pinch of salt and a few tablespoons of water or milk, then cook them low and slow in butter instead of oil.
You'll need a large nonstick skillet or a well-seasoned cast-iron pan or griddle to cook the pancakes and eggs. The pancakes can be prepared a day in advance, kept covered and chilled, then recrisped in a 350-degree oven when it's dinnertime.
Breakfast for dinner. It's a refreshing change of pace.
ROOT VEGETABLE PANCAKES WITH SMOKED SALMON, EGGS AND HORSERADISH CREAM
Yield: 4 servings
For the horseradish cream: 1/2 cup sour cream (may substitute plain yogurt) 2 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper
For the pancakes: 9 large eggs 1 pound assorted root vegetables, such as turnips, beets, parsnips, carrots, peeled and coarsely grated 8 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated 1/2 cup finely chopped onion 1/3 cup flour Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup vegetable oil 8 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon (may substitute prosciutto or Canadian bacon) Chopped chives, for garnish
For the horseradish cream: Combine the sour cream, horseradish and lemon zest in a bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper, stirring to incorporate.
For the pancakes: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Lightly beat 1 egg in a mixing bowl, then stir in the grated vegetables and potato, onion, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, use a half-cup measure to drop mounds of the vegetable mixture into the pan, flattening them to 4½- to 5-inch rounds; you should only be able to fit in about 3 at a time. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown, then turn them over and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on the second sides, until browned. Transfer the pancakes to a baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt and place in the warm oven.
Repeat, adding the remaining oil to the pan as needed, to use all the mixture, creating a total of 8 pancakes.
Working in batches as needed, fry the remaining 8 eggs in the same oiled skillet (medium heat), turning them over to cook on the second side, if desired, as runny or firm as you like. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
To serve, place 2 pancakes on each plate. Top each pancake with an ounce of the smoked salmon, a fried egg, a spoonful of the horseradish cream and a sprinkling of chives.
Tip: A food processor fitted with a shredding disk will make quick work of grating the root vegetables, but you can use the large-holed side of a box grater as well.