Former high school brains, athletes, basket cases, princesses, and criminals everywhere are fist-pumping this week.
“The Breakfast Club,” John Hughes’ quintessentially '80s teen flick about a life-changing detention session, turns 30 this week. Movie theaters across the United States will mark the film’s anniversary with special showings of a restored version March 26 and 31. (For locations and tickets check Fandango or your local listings.)
There’s no question that much has changed about teen culture, fashion, and high school since 1985, but the message of the film has transcended generations. Whatever label you identified with in high school, everyone’s friends could be judgmental, everyone’s parents didn’t understand, everyone hurt the same way.
But the movie is about more than breaking down the barriers of high school cliques. Though labeled a “teen movie” it addresses serious adult issues such as domestic abuse and marital strife. The core question its characters struggle with is one of the most universal: “Who am I?”
The movie’s iconic ending, with Judd Nelson’s character, Bender, fist-pumping at the sky, is a cathartic celebration of individualism. It’s a moment and emotion we’ve all experienced, albeit in different ways, perhaps driving to college alone on the highway, tossing your cap at graduation, or dropping the rent check paid with your own money into the mailbox.
This former band geek recently celebrated life’s fist-pump-worthy moments by pairing a rented version of the film with my all-time favorite breakfast dish, hash brown bake.
Hash brown bake is a special-occasion dish from my childhood that my mother always served with a fruit salad, and a baked good such as muffins or cinnamon rolls. Almost better as leftovers, a slice of the casserole reheats like a dream the microwave and also works great as a light lunch.
Over the years, our family has played with the recipe, originally from “Southern Living,” adding extra bell peppers to please my father, and leaving out ham in half of it during my sister’s vegetarian phase.
Breakfast Club Casserole (hash brown bake)
Modified from “Southern Living 1995 Annual Recipes”
3 cups frozen shredded potatoes
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup finely chopped cooked ham
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped green and red bell pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. Thaw potatoes between layers of paper towels. Remove excess moisture by pressing on towels.
2. Press potatoes into bottom and up the sides of 9-inch pie pan and drizzle with butter.
3. Bake potato shell at 425 degrees F. for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
4. Lightly sauté or microwave chopped peppers for 2 minutes or until they slightly soften. Spread peppers, ham, and cheese into shell. Lightly whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and dry mustard. Pour over ham/cheese mixture.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes or until set. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Do ahead: For quick assembly in the morning bake the potato shell, chop the peppers and ham, and whisk together the milk and egg mixture a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate all components separately. Assemble, adding cheese, in the morning.