By David Link
A good, hardy breakfast can makes all the difference, especially when you’re out at hunting camp or hanging with friends around the morning campfire. However, you have to balance the desire to cook an appetizing breakfast with the fact that you don’t always have a full kitchen, or a lot of pots and pans, on hand around the camp. In the past, I’ve thrown some sausage or bacon in a dutch oven, browned it, and then added eggs and stirred. It get’s the job done, especially with some hot sauce on hand, but it doesn’t always look that great or satisfy those who want a little something more than just protein.
Since those ill-prepared camping trips of days passed, I’ve refined my breakfast scramble approach, and here’s a one-skillet recipe using wild boar sausage, a host of vegetables and some large brown eggs. In addition to the cast iron skillet or dutch oven, you’ll need a cutting board, a good kitchen knife, a spatula and some assorted seasonings. This recipe is measured for two to three people, but you can up the ingredients to feed more, and like all scrambles, you can just eyeball how much you want to put in the skillet and it will almost always turn out worthwhile.
You start by getting all the vegetables prepped before browning the sausage. Since this is a “one pot” meal, you want everything ready to stir in before you start cooking. First, cut the stem and tip of the Anaheim pepper off and remove most of the core and seeds. Then cut the pepper in half longways and remove the rest of the core and seeds. Next, cut the pepper halves again into four equal sized pieces, and then cut slivers of them so they aren’t exactly fine chopped but they aren’t in large chunks anymore either.
Next, move on to the true star of this dish (aside from the delicious boar sausage), Swiss chard. Not everyone regularly cooks with Swiss chard, but it really is a powerhouse of nutrition, and I think people generally prefer the taste and texture of the leaves better than kale. The stems also add a nice crunch to the scramble.
The stems and leaves of the chard need to be prepared separately. Start by cutting the leaves close to the stem until the stem is separated from the leaf. Next cut the leaf in half. Set the leaves aside and chop the stem in similar chunks as the peppers. It’s always a good rule of thumb to cut the bottom of the stem off as it tends to be a bit brown and less ripe than the rest of the stem. Once the chard stem is chopped, place it with the peppers. Turning back to the chard leaves, cut them into larger chunks, say 1/2 inch or more, and it helps to lay all the chard leaf halves on top of one another and cut them all at once. Keep the leaves separate from the peppers and chard stems as you’ll cook them later.
Finally, slice the green onion into smaller pieces. The best approach here is to keep the pieces closer to the root smaller and chop the greener parts a little larger. Set the green onions aside in their own pile as they will go in separate from the chard leaves and the pepper and chard stems. Don’t forget to peal and chop the clove of fresh garlic if you have it.
Once the vegetables are prepared, it’s time to get to cooking. Make sure the coals are hot enough for cooking, or if you’re around the house, turn the stove top on at medium heat. Make sure the skillet is seasoned with an oil with a high smoke point. I prefer avocado oil, but it is a little pricey compared to other options. Instead of plunking one large chunk of sausage into the skillet, I prefer to separate it with my hands into smaller pieces, and then turn on the heat.
Cook the sausage until it is almost browned, and then add the chard stems, cabbage and peppers. It’s now that I like to season the vegetables and the sausage, and later when the eggs are added I will season them again. As the sausage continues to brown, you can saute these items that require more cooking than the chard leaves or onions. Watch your oil level, and if the sausage continues to put out large amounts of oil, you may want to soak up some with paper towels. As the vegetables cook and the sausage gets a good brown color on it, add the green onions when you have a few minutes left. Now is also the time to add the fresh chopped garlic if you have it. A minute or two after that add the chard leaves and saute them briefly so they wilt a little.
Shortly after adding the chard leaves, it’s time to crack the eggs and then stir the scramble frequently. I like to stay active when turning the scramble by separating and turning the eggs as they cook. This is certainly not the time to walk away from the dish. Once the eggs are properly cooked and have a good consistency (not too dry but adequately cooked), pull the skillet from the heat and you’re ready to serve. Break out some hot sauce and maybe some tortillas and chow down around the campfire. For a simple meal, basically add the ingredients and stir, the eggs turn out with some color from the veggies and the wild boar sausage gives it a nice flavor edge that regular sausage doesn’t always provide. After some coffee and a plate of eggs, you’ll be ready for the day.
Interested in more? Check out: Campfire Cooking.