Although I know it may be easy to believe that my life is a quiet, peaceful little existence in remote Alaska, sometimes it’s more like a circus. This last week was a circus sort of week. On Monday night, just as my in-laws were headed to the airport to fly back to California, my daughter came down with an aggressive stomach bug. I won’t go into any more detail about this bit considering that this is a food blog and these sorts of topics are very unappetizing, but I will mention that Pastor Alaska’s MacBook Pro was out of commission for a while after one of her unfortunate tummy episodes. Pastor Alaska is very fond of his computer, so he wasn’t particularly thrilled about this turn of events.
The very next morning, after I was up all night with a sick little girl and really wasn’t feeling very well myself at that point, my 8-year-old son got a rock stuck in his ear at school during recess and they were unable to get it out. Pastor Alaska had to go pick him up and take him immediately to the doctor. The doctor, being unable to retrieve the rock, sent my son to the emergency room. The E.R., also being unsuccessful in getting it out, put our son under anesthesia to make further attempts. Still no luck. Finally, he had to be referred to an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist in Anchorage. So, on Wednesday, while I’m still deep in the tummy flu situation with our daughter, Pastor Alaska drove our son the 3 1/2 hours (which ended up being quite a bit more than that due to several construction stops and pilot cars) up to Anchorage for a final attempt to retrieve the rock, again under anesthesia. Thankfully, they were able to remove the rock on the third attempt and our son is just fine now. Our daughter ended up being quite sick for 5 solid days and we ended up making a trip to Urgent Care with her before it was all over. She is also better now. I am worn out, but thankful.
I suppose that all this is to say that my life gets hard and messy and dirty and icky just like everyone else’s. Through all of it, I was lifted up by family, friends, and readers who sent prayers, well-wishes, and words of encouragement. I was supported by friends near and far who did things like pick up my oldest son from school, bring bottles of Gatorade to my daughter, and deliver post-surgery goodie bags to my son or visit him while he was in Anchorage. Life may be messy, but it’s always better and more bearable somehow when there are people who are willing to get messy right along with you.
Like most Alaska gals, I love a good, hearty plate of meat and potatoes for breakfast. I could honestly pass up a lot of deliciously sweet plates of pancakes or waffles for a big portion of this hash with a side of eggs. As you can see above, I like to cook this in two separate pans, because I really want all the ingredients to have their fair amount of surface area in the pan to get nice and brown, all crispy and caramelized. If you pile it all into the same skillet in the beginning, your ingredients will steam and you’ll end up with a soggier hash. We don’t want that. Another trick is to par-bake your potatoes (I use the microwave for this), then peel and chop them. That way, when you put them into the hot skillet, the cooked exterior will form a beautiful brown crust, while the interior will finish cooking in the pan. Add some smoked sausage, sautéed red and green bell peppers, and red onion and you’re on your way to one outstanding Alaska breakfast.
Potato & Smoked Sausage Hash
Hearty, crisp potato hash with smoked sausage, peppers, and onions.
Yields: Serves 4-6
- Canola oil, for pans
- 4 medium potatoes, par-baked*, peeled, and chopped into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 13 ounces smoked sausage (chicken or turkey smoked sausage work well, too), sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, season with seasoning salt and pepper, and allow them to get a brown crust on one side before stirring. Continue to brown the potatoes until they have a brown crust on at least two sides. When the potatoes are browned and crisp, push them to one side of the pan and add the smoked sausage, getting a nice browning on the sausage as well.
Meanwhile, heat oil in another skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and red onion, and stirring often, cook until the vegetables are tender and begin to brown.
Add the cooked peppers and onions to the cast iron skillet with the potatoes and sausage and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve promptly, preferably with ketchup and/or hot sauce on the side.