One of my goals for 2015 is to clean out the piles of cooking magazines and recipes that have accumulated over the past year. I have the best intentions when I see the pretty pictures of the perfectly baked, broiled, grilled or fried dishes featured in Food and Wine, Southern Living or Bon Appetit, but after a year of clipping, my coffee table is a mountain of recipes that I have long forgotten about. So I spent New Year’s Day listening to college football bowl games and going through the stack, recipe by recipe, tossing the ones I know I will never attempt and organizing the ones I’m pretty sure I will. What better way to find new favorites then to try one new recipe a week. If I like it, it gets filed in the recipe box for future meals; if I don’t like it, it gets filed in the recycle bin.
Most Saturday mornings you can find me visiting my friends at the Minne Lusa House in north Omaha. I met this fantastic group of women (and men) several years ago after reading an article in Edible Omaha (a quarterly magazine that highlights local food and drink as well as providing gardening tips, recipes and stories about individuals and organizations making an impact on the community), and have been spending my Saturday mornings there ever since. Coffee and conversation is the primary mission of the Saturday morning get-togethers, but someone is always mixing up an egg casserole, frying green tomatoes or setting out a platter of doughnuts, pumpkin bread or cinnamon rolls.
I had recently run across (and cut out) a recipe in Food and Wine for a Potato and Manchego Casserole with Maple Bacon and it was one of the recipes that survived the purging. Since egg casseroles don’t reheat very well, this was definitely one to try on friends, so after a quick trip to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few missing ingredients, I headed to the Minne Lusa House with my bag of groceries, excited to start implementing my one new recipe a week resolution.
With the help of my friend (and Minne Lusa House native) Diane, we shredded cheese, whisked eggs and fried bacon and after about 1 1/2 hours, what emerged was really pretty yummy! I’m not going to lie- I had 2 servings and I’m pretty sure I saw Diane and Beth go back for seconds as well. Of course, all of that conversation and rounds of challenging 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe does build up the appetite, and Beth’s fried green tomatoes disappeared pretty quickly as well. Here is this wonderful recipe. I will add that the next time I make this, I will probably dice the potatoes into smaller pieces and bake for a little less time.
Potato and Manchego Casserole with Maple Bacon (makes 8 servings)
Working time: 20 minutes; Total time 1 hr. 45 minutes
2 pounds fingerling potatoes
12 ounces applewood-smoked bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Butter for baking dish
6 ounces shredded Manchego cheese (about 2 cups)
5 scallions, white and green parts chopped
6 large eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Meanwhile, in a medium pot over high heat, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cook until potatoes are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain potatoes and let rest until cool enough to handle. Cut each in half lengthwise. Set aside.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove skillet from heat and stir in maple syrup and cayenne. Set aside. (Even though the recipe does not say to drain the fat from the bacon, we did).
3. Butter a 2-quart baking dish and set aside. In a large bowl, stir reserved potatoes and maple-bacon mixture, plus cheese and scallions, to combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl whisk eggs, milk, salt, and freshly ground pepper to combine. Slowly pour over potato mixture. Bake until top is golden, about 50 minutes. Let casserole cool slightly before serving.
Pour yourself a hot cup of coffee or some fresh squeezed orange juice and enjoy!