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Hankerin’ for a Hangtown Fry

My version of the Hangtown Fry: the Hangtown Shooter

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San Francisco is a great food town, but I’ll admit one major shortcoming: unlike New York, our scene is not of the “anything you want, anytime you want it” inclination. In fact, sometimes it feels like quite the opposite.

Last Sunday, the boyfriend and I yearned to try the Hangtown Fry, a Gold Rush specialty that originated in Placerville, CA (aka “Hangtown”). It’s a breakfast dish that supposedly came about when a lucky prospector, pockets full of gold, swaggered into a local eatery and demanded the most expensive thing on the menu. What he got was the Hangtown Fry, an omelet featuring oysters and bacon. Sounds good, right?

Since it happened to be prime brunch time, we figured Hangtown Fry would be easy to find. We were wrong. After several web searches and numerous phone calls, we had no good leads on the Hangtown Fry. Two of the city’s oldest restaurants offer it but, strangely, they’re both closed on Sundays. I must say it was pretty annoying; then again, maybe it was the low blood sugar talking. Then I realized I could just as easily make it myself, and get a little creative while I was at it: Why not turn it into a sandwich, as a kind of breakfasty po’boy? Or broil the oysters, and then top with hollandaise (that’s the eggs) and bacon?

In the end, I made something that somewhat resembled a prairie oyster: in shot glasses, I arranged a poached quail egg next to a raw shucked oyster, and topped them both with crumbled bacon. A drizzle of sherry vinegar added punch and chives boosted the visual appeal. The result: while not filling enough for brunch itself, it was delicious and it quelled the hunger pangs for a little while. Plus, it was fun to reinterpret a classic (and rename it accordingly: I dubbed it the Hangtown Shooter).

How have you updated your favorite classic dishes?


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  • User avater
    artybee | 01/01/2012

    Nice idea, but not even close to a hangtown. And it would be hazardous to 'shoot' it with all those little bits of bacon.
    Sometimes the deconstruction of a trad recipe is interesting. I'd double the size and put it in a bowl and call it an entree. Adding a little briny sea vegetable foam would be fab!

  • User avater
    Tyler_M | 07/15/2009

    This was delicious. Though not-frying foods meant to be fried could set a dangerous precedent.

  • GTO_driver | 07/15/2009

    What a coincidece - as I was reading the blog here in Virginia, a wild quail was making a whistling call.
    Only in California can one find such a tasty food delight.

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