Holiday dinners may get all the glory, but men and women who host friends and family each holiday season know that time spent with loved ones at the breakfast table can be just as enjoyable as breaking bread in the evening. A homecooked meal first thing in the morning is a great way to start the day, and hosts who want to serve up something familiar with a little extra flavor can try the following recipe for “Skillet-Roasted Potatoes with Mushrooms and Pancetta” from Betty Rosbottom’s “Sunday Brunch” (Chronicle Books).
Skillet-Roasted Potatoes with Mushrooms and Pancetta
4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes (see note)
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if necessary
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed and quartered
Freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces cremini or brown mushrooms, quartered
6 garlic cloves, peeled and halved crosswise
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Several fresh thyme sprigs for garnish (optional)
1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. In a large, heavy, ovenproof frying pan (preferably cast iron) set over medium heat, sauté the pancetta until golden and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels.
3. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings from the pan. (If you don’t have 2 tablespoons, add olive oil to make this amount.) When hot, add the potatoes and sauté, stirring, until they start to take on a little color, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and place the frying pan in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes.
4. Remove the frying pan from the oven and add the mushrooms, garlic and the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the dried thyme and season with more salt and pepper. Toss to coat well.
5. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the potatoes are golden brown and tender and the mushrooms are softened, about 15 minutes more. Remove the frying pan from the oven and stir in the reserved pancetta. If desired, garnish the center of the pan with fresh thyme sprigs. Serve warm.
Note: If buying pancetta from a deli, ask for it to be cut thickly into 1⁄4-inch slices. Prepackaged pancetta is often thinly sliced.