Garth Brooks' Breakfast pasta makes have already caused a stir on the internet since Trisha Yearwood debuted the recipe on a 2009 episode of Trisha's Southern Kitchen. Offense was mostly taken over the addition of cheese tortellini along with the more classic breakfast staples of scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon, sausage, and hashbrowns. This part didn't bother me so much as I've already known the untraditional joys of starting the day with a bowl of pasta. In fact, one of my favorite leftover hacks is to submerge last night's pasta in a cheesy egg custard and bake it into a breakfast spaghetti pie. Or consider pasta carbonara, which when you break it down is essentially a bacon and egg sauce that's made for a surprising brunch plate.
The Food Network Celebrity Switcharoo
I watched the Food Network when they used to develop little-known chefs into celebrities, growing massive followings based on each cook's unique point of view in the kitchen. No matter if the recipes came from a professionally trained chef like Giada De Laurentiis or Bobby Flay, or were cobbled together with storebought ingredients from the likes of Sandra Lee, even the worst recipes felt a little more authentic knowing these people built a name off of their kitchen skills in some way.
Trisha's Kitchen: Easy Comfort Food For Family and Friends
The more popular trend in recent years has been established celebrities expanding their personal brand with culinary pursuits. These business models range from the mostly-inoffensive work Valerie Bertinelli produces for the Food Network to Chrissy Teigan's admittedly pretty good Cravings franchise, but they can still lack the passion of an all-out food brand in favor of a feeling of, "I'm a major celebrity and oh yeah, and I cook sometimes too!"
I say this to point out that I was an ardent Trisha Yearwood denier going to test her recipe for Breakfast Bowls. I can bop to "The Wrong Side of Memphis" any day and I do love to see her musical friends she brings on her show- including Reba McEntire herself!- but I still questioned her own qualifications for hosting a cooking show. Worse yet the recipe comes from her Country superstar husband Garth Brooks. Was I supposed to trust a recipe from a celebrity chef once removed?
Understanding Garth Brooks' Breakfast Pasta Monstrosity
My questions were more focused on the overall construction of the dish; wouldn't tortellini and hashbrowns be a carbo-load overkill first thing in the morning leaving me glued to the couch for the rest of the day? I didn't really question the all-American tradition to pair two salty meats together first thing in the morning even if I don't really agree with it, but I couldn't help but wonder what exactly would tie the dish together. There isn't much by way of spice or seasoning included in the recipe, though there is certainly enough salt imparted from the ingredients, nor is there any type of sauce that could bring together all the components into one cohesive dish. The closest it gets is a bag of shredded cheddar cheese layered between the other ingredients, which in my mind impart the feeling of cold cheese scattered among other hot ingredients. Even Trisha herself admitted in an interview with People Magazine that she used to refer to it as more of a "compilation" of ingredients rather than a full recipe, which didn't help to assuage any fears of mine.
Then came the issue of preparing Garth Brooks' breakfast pasta bowls. Though the ingredients are accessible enough to find in any grocery store, there are a lot of moving parts in this recipe. Trisha calls for four pans for the recipe, roughly one for each ingredient except for the meat pan used to separately render both the sausage and bacon. She directs that the eggs are scrambled first, then the potatoes, meat, and tortellini, oddly placing the quickest cooking items at the top of the recipe and leaving the longer components until the end.
Stretching the importance of reading a recipe through before starting the project, I took some liberties by air-frying the frozen hash browns while browning the meats after realizing I wouldn't have the number of pans or stove space to work with. Even though each step of the recipe requires little more effort than just throwing something in a pan, the number of different parts to worry about at once adds some stress to the recipe even if it manages to come together in less than 30 minutes.
By the time I had to layer all the ingredients together in a bowl I had just about made up my mind about the recipe. My sink was bursting full of all my pans too large to fit in the dishwasher, and the smell of bacon and sausage grease hung heavy in the air and stuck to my clothes. I divided everything into two and made a loose sort-of breakfast lasagna in hopes the radiant heat would melt the cheese better, and I had a pretty bad attitude scooping it out into bowls, put off by the shades of beige and brown comingling before me.
The Taste Test
I put off the inevitable and went for a taste, stacking every bit on my fork as if to just get it all in at once and get over it. And then it happened, I was actually eating my words. As much as I wanted to hate it and act as if my pallet was just too elevated to enjoy such slop, I found myself scooping up a second taste direct from the serving bowl. Though I feared the pasta, potatoes, and meats would all be too dry to make a cohesive dish, the cooked bacon and sausage added just enough fat to the dish to tie it together, waxing the pale tortellini into shiny and enticing pillows of cheese.
Nothing about the bowl is necessarily transcendent; it tastes exactly how you would think a bowl of tortellini, potatoes, bacon, sausage, eggs, and cheese tastes like, but oh what a combination it turned out to be. Though I can't imagine eating this more than once or twice a year, the salty punch of everything together reads like the perfect hangover breakfast. These Breakfast Bowls would also be a great unexpected weekend brunch for a family that everyone can enjoy.
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Kurt Suchman is a freelance food, music, and culture writer based in Seattle. They have contributed stories to Consequence, Shondaland, and Food52, are often found spending too much money at record shops and grocery stores. and will always self-identify as a punk rock Jersey grrrl.