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Shout it with me: Down with breakfast potatoes! Bring back hash browns!
At some indeterminate moment in the fairly recent past, the reign of hashbrowns ended, and that of breakfast potatoes began. It was a sweeping replacement: Bougie brunch joints and greasy spoons alike forewent their box graters in favor of roasting pans and delicately sprinkled herbs. Menus were edited and no one looked back. In an instant, morning time tuber consumption was utterly transformed.
I have to say, I’m not loving it.
Eating potatoes immediately upon waking is probably inadvisable from a health standpoint, so if we’re going to do it, we should do it. Why are we not always running full-speed toward a butter-laden frying pan and maximizing surface area for crispiness? Huge chunks of soft potato flesh are not appetizing, but the few untouched grated bits that are sandwiched between crunchy outer hashbrown layers are wondrous. Who are we kidding with this prim breakfast potato business? Are we at a dinner party in France?!
A few weeks ago I left my apartment in search of a restaurant that would feed me hashbrowns in exchange for money and could locate no such establishment. I was basically waving cash in the air, a Hamilton in each hand in the middle of the street, willing somebody, anybody, to shred and fry me some potatoes. But to my despair, Williamsburg* was on the breakfast potato train, and I, hungry, was being abandoned at the station.
So I went to the grocery store, picked up a box grater, and provided for myself like the grown woman I am.
To up the ante slightly, these bad boys are sweet potato-based and maple-spiked, perfect on their own or topped with a fried egg. Throw some greens on the side if you’re feeling guilty about it, but one bite in and you’ll forget your qualms.
*If you know a place in Williamsburg that serves real, actual hashbrowns, GET AT YOUR GIRL. I’m serious. I will shower you will love.
Serves 2 as a side
1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated with a box grater
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
A few turns of fresh ground pepper
A pinch of chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
4 tablespoons butter, divided
Photos by Bobbi Lin and James Ransom