Meat & potatoes slow-cooked, then turned to hash
The meaty, economical, quickly assembled dish known as baeckeoffe in France’s Alsace region harks back to mornings when a housewife would drop off a casserole at the local bread baker’s. It cooked in the residual heat of his recently emptied oven and she returned later in the day to pick it up. Some say this was the practice on Sundays; others that it was a Monday tradition designed to allow women to give their full attention to their weekly washing. In any case, the dish is typically prepared in an oversize unglazed clay pot with a snug-fitting lid, but a roomy Dutch oven does just as well. Layer bone-in pork chops, nuggets of lamb, and chicken thighs (authentic versions use beef) with sliced potatoes, onions or leeks, and some simple seasonings. Add a half bottle or so of unoaked white wine and send the dish to the oven. After three hours, the cooking juices are remarkably aromatic and the top layer of browned potatoes provides a crowning finish.
The next morning, finely chop leftover meat and potatoes, add a few strips of crisp bacon, and turn the baeckeoffe into a hearty hash you can top with deliciously creamy soft-cooked eggs. Thrifty 19th-century cooks knew all along how we wanted to eat.
Stephen Meuse can be reached at email@example.com.