In Tom’s Kitchen, Grist’s food editor discusses some of the quick-and-easy things he gets up to in, well, his kitchen. Forgive him for the lame iPhone photography.


Last night, I wanted something fast and simple for dinner–that also tasted really good. I hadn’t been grocery shopping for a while, and nothing much is coming off the farm except eggs.

I did a little survey of what I had on hand. A few red potatoes. A small sweet potato. Farm eggs, and garlic from last season. An onion. A bunch of mustard greens that needed to be used.

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So here’s what I did. Serves one; can be multiplied.

1) Turn oven to 450 F, stick in a large cast-iron skillet.

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2) miseMise en placePhotos: Tom PhilpottSlice the sweet potato lengthwise at a slight angle, then cut each slice lenghthwise into sticks. Do the same thing to the potato. Dry the sticks with a kitchen towel; if they’re wet they won’t caramelize. Add them all to a bowl; give them a heavy drizzle of olive oil and a good lashing of sea salt, black pepper, and crushed red chile pepper. Mix them with your hands until well-coated, and set aside. Cut a peeled onion in half lengthwise; set each half on its flat side and cut cross-wise into thin strips. Set aside. Clean the mustards; without drying them, chop them. Don’t worry about taking out the stems unless they’re real tough. Chop two cloves of garlic. Get out an egg, some butter, and a bottle of red-wine vinegar.

potatoesThe potatoes will cook better in a single layer. Watch that hot handle! 2) Put another cast iron skillet n the stovetop, add some olive oil and turn heat to medium. When the oil starts to shimmer, and the onion and stir in. Allow onion to saute until soft, stirring occasionally. Give it a punch of salt, and some crushed chile. When onions are soft, add the greens and another pinch of salt. Stir and cover, and turn heat to low.

3) When the oven has reached temperature, pull out the cast-iron skillet. Its handle will be very hot. Whenever you’re working with a hot-handled cast-irion skillet, always drape a pot holder over the handle. Otherwise, you might forget it’s hot and grip–or someone else might do so. Add the sliced sweet/regular potato slices. They should sizzle vigorously. Give them a s stir, arranging them so that they will form a single layer. Add to onion.[Corrected:] Return pan to oven.


4) Fuss over the mustards. Check them, stir them–you want to cook them until they’re just tender. When they are, take off the lid and add a small splash of vinegar. Let most of the liquid evaporate, stirring, and turn off heat. Taste and correct for salt and vinegar.

5) Take out the potatoes of the oven and flip them with a spatula. They should be browning nicely. Put them back in. Do some dishes. Open a beer. Listen to some music. With a few minutes, they should be starting to get done.

eggAlmost ready ….6) When the potatoes are done–crisp and brown on at least two sides, and tender in the middle, put the skillet on the stovetop (taking care to drape the handle with a pot holder) and turn off the oven. Add the chopped garlic to the pan, stirring. (I didn’t add it before, because delicate garlic burns fast.) Now, using a spatula, clear a nice round space in the middle of the pan. Add a pat of butter to the empty space. When it melts and its foam subsides, crack the egg on of the butter. Give the sizzling egg a sprinkle of salt and a grind of pepper. After the egg set and turns white, flip it. If you like it over easy, just let it sit there a minute or two. I like mine over medium, so I turned the flame to low under the pan–by now, the pan is cooling–and let it sit for a few minutes.

dinnerA satisfying supper–without much fuss or mess.7) Serve. On one side of the plate, the greens (you probably will only eat about half, saving the rest for leftovers.) On the other side, the potatoes. On top of the potatoes, the egg. The yolk on mine was just a little runny–as i like it–and when the knife hit it, hot yolk oozed over the potatoes.