We didn’t have guests this weekend at the Amethyst Inn. I guess Good Friday and Easter are not big draws for Bed and Breakfasts, so I decided to experiment with sweet potatoes, sausage and baked eggs. The inspiration hit me during our gig at the Devereaux Shields House in Natchez, Mississippi.
The sausage emerged from a failure. The cook at the Devereaux Shields House served wonderful sausage patties. I asked her about ingredients. She said she added onion and apple to Jimmy Dean Sausage. I chopped up an onion and an apple and mixed it with the sausage. It wasn’t the same. I now suspect she ground up the onion and apple with a meat grinder rather than dicing them, so I had this sausage with pieces of apple and onion that I did not want to make into patties.
Luckily, the sausage failure fries up into flavorful and distinctive loose sausage. The sausage drippings make great gravy. The apple, onion and sausage gravy is a bit different and will go very well with our biscuits. We make very good biscuits, but that is a different story.
Mississippi and Louisiana are major sweet potato growing states. I grew up with sweet potatoes once or twice a year at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Mom had one great recipe, but sweet potato promotion boards have been successfully promoting their highly nutritious product for year round consumption – thus sweet potato French fries, etc. According to USDA, consumption has nearly doubled since 2000.
I wanted to try roasting sweet potatoes. I diced one into ½ inch pieces tossed them in olive oil, sprinkled on pepper and roasted them for about half an hour at 400 degrees. Some of the smaller pieces had gotten crisp and dark brown. I consider them a major success. If anything, I would leave them in the oven even longer to allow more of them to brown and crisp. They are sweet, colorful, distinctively flavored and can be uses as garnish or a side on any breakfast plate.
Finally, I oiled a ramekin, layered it with the sweet potatoes and then with loose sausage. I made a well in the middle, cracked an egg into it and put it into the oven to bake until the whites were set. I liked it and Catherine labeled it a success. Next I layered the sweet potatoes, gave them a liberal dollop of sausage gravy and cracked an egg on it. Catherine thought it might be even better, even though she claims she doesn’t care for sausage gravy.
Experimentation will continue. How many servings will a pound of sausage gravy make? Will gravy reheat properly? How many sweet potatoes do I need to dice? How long do the eggs have to bake? They need to be done when the guests sit down for breakfast. Will they keep in the oven if we are working at an inn where guest do not eat at the same time? I will continue to experiment, but I think I am on to something.
Attractive, flavorful, different and filling: All useful ingredients for a B&B breakfast. My next challenge is grits!