When I moved to Durham, North Carolina for graduate school, it didn't take me long to find Foster's Market, my personal Central Perk, Peach Pit, or Cheers (depending on which T.V. show you are familiar with.) Most people who have lived in Durham know about Foster's, a combination bakery, cafe, and country gourmet grocery. Started by Sara Foster, a cookbook author, former caterer for Martha Stewart, and southern-style comfort food queen, Foster's was wildly popular with college students, families, and, well, pretty much everyone.
Some customers would drop in to Foster's occasionally, whenever they happened to be in the area, while others would visit a few times each week, making sure that they were in the area. Then there was me. Boy, thinking back, I sure wish that they had started some sort of customer loyalty club before my first visit. I would have owned the place by graduation. Four or sometimes five days per week, I would find myself pulling into the unpaved Foster's parking lot, praying that one of the coveted parking spots was available. If I was there in the morning during a week day, when I had a habit of scheduling the earliest class available (this always seems like a good idea at the time), then I would order the homemade organic granola parfait and a latte, and I was out the door. For lunch, I was addicted to the Thai Chicken Wrap. In fact, I was so crazy about this sandwich that I got up the nerve to ask Sara for the recipe before I graduated (I got it too!)
There's nothing like a deliciously leisurely breakfast during the weekend, and Foster's served up several southern-inspired morning entrees every Saturday and Sunday. If you arrived early enough, you could settle into one of the eclectic mismatched tables inside or eat at one of the painted picnic tables outside. Sara would take typically heavy southern favorites and give them a lighter, fresher twist with lots of fruit and vegetables. Her Sweet Potato Hash was my favorite, using diced turkey instead of corned beef or pork, and bright orange sweet potatoes in place of hum-drum regular potatoes. Fortunately, Sara's first cookbook, appropriately named The Foster's Market Cookbook, contains the recipe for this skillet-cooked breakfast. This is a slight variation of the printed version, but I kept all of the best parts! Here are my extra tips for this marvelous morning meal:
- Instead of using chicken, try using smoked turkey, smoked trout, smoked salmon, or andouille sausage.
- Substitute red new potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, or any other potatoes for the sweet potatoes. You can also use a mixture of potatoes, if desired.
- Italian sweet peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, and chipotles can be used in addition to the bell peppers to add extra heat to this recipe. I like to serve it with a few shots of Tabasco Chipotle pepper sauce.
- Try mixing other vegetables or herbs into the hash. Fresh spinach or arugula, diced Roma tomatoes, or chopped fresh thyme would all make nice additions.
Chicken and Sweet Potato Hash
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1 pound roasted boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
Salt and pepper
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon minced scallions
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
Place the diced potatoes in a saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1-inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the potatoes are just barely tender. Drain and set aside.
Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown, 4-5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook until the potatoes are crispy, 6-7 minutes. Add the remaining olive oil and the chicken. Season with salt and pepper, add the cayenne, and cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
Make four 3-inch holes in the hash and break an egg into each hole. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the eggs are cooked to the desired degree of doneness. Sprinkle with the scallions, and parsley. Use a spatula to divide the portions and serve immediately.