Seasonal Flavors: Valerie’s Pancetta Potato Bake

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Valerie’s Pancetta Potato Bake. Photo: Denise Zito.

STOWE, VT.  I’m here at the Timberholm Inn, watching the gently falling snow, slipping around on my cross country skis and enjoying the delicious breakfasts.  

Valerie has been running the Timberholm for nearly three years. I was sure she was a professional cook, when in fact in her previous life, she had been the marketing director with a food service company. She told me that she has always enjoyed giving enormous dinner parties, so why not move to Vermont, enjoy the skiing and run an inn? Sure, why not?  

Valerie shares the Inn with her husband Michael and an adorable daughter, Seraphina, who indeed looks like a Bottecelli angel with her blond ringlets and enormous eyes.  Lewis, the labradoodle, provides the entertainment.

What I’ve really enjoyed about our visit at the Timberholm is the casual vibe, the beautiful setting and the friendly crowd. It’s cozy, clean, historic, and close to everything you would want to visit (Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory, Cabot Creamery, Trapp Family Lodge). And of course, there are lots of ski resorts. Bonus! It’s maple tree tapping season—so romantic.

Yesterday Valerie knocked our socks off with a dish she calls Pancetta Potato Bake. She adapted the recipe from an innkeeper insider cookbook. Part of her regular rotation of breakfast items, she serves it with a really terrific blueberry crumble and a fruit cup. It was quintessential country inn fare, savory and delicious. The next time I have overnight or brunch guests, I’ll be serving it.

Please note that this is gluten-free, and can be made vegetarian by simply omitting the pancetta. 

Valerie’s Pancetta Potato Bake

  • 4 russet potatoes, diced into ½ inch cubes (no need to peel)
  • 1 medium onion, diced into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 T butter
  • 10 oz bag frozen spinach
  • 2 red or green peppers, sliced
  • 3 gloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 T minced chives plus more for garnish
  • 1 T olive oil
  • Shredded Vermont cheddar for garnish

Serves 4. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Boil 1 quart of water with ¼ cup of cider vinegar.

Sauté the potatoes and onions in the butter until both are tender, about 15 minutes, remove to a casserole dish, place in oven to keep warm and continue cooking.

Using the same pan, sauté the spinach and peppers in the oil, until the spinach has thawed and the peppers are soft, about ten minutes.  Put these vegetables atop the potatoes and return to the oven

Using the same pan, fry 8 thin slices of pancetta until cooked through.

Drop the eggs into the boiling water and poach for 3 minutes and 30 seconds.  Remove with slotted spoon and reserve till serving.

Prepare the sauce by combining the sour cream, 2 T minced chives and 1 T olive oil

To serve, spoon the potato/vegetable mixture onto the plate, layer two slices of pancetta per serving, top with a poached egg, then put a dollop of sauce on the side. Garnish with some grated cheddar and minced chives.

Photo: Denise Zito

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