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Oct 10, 2013 08:46 AM

Breakfast potatoes?

I am getting crabbier and crabbier about seeing "breakfast potatoes" on a menu. Well, yes, I know this is morning food, so you probably aren't going to be serving mashed potatoes or an au gratin at this hour. But for crying out loud, can't you say "hash browns" or "potatoes O'Brien" or even "skillet potatoes"? Most of the time it seems to be an excuse for using the deep fryer because it's easier, and frankly, little chunks of potato already cooked and dropped in hot oil for a few minutes don't add up to breakfast-ish spuds to me.

When did this get to be an accepted euphemism? Have I been asleep for the past 20 years?

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  1. Well, where I am in the world, mashed potato would often appear on a breakfast - either in the form of potato cakes or as bubble & squeak. Rarely does potato appear in any other form at breakfast.

    25 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      Yup, it's a very American phenom, I think. My potato-loving Norwegian branch of the clan were stunned when I did a big American breakfast of eggs, bacon AND sausage, potatoes, American biscuits, and three kinds of jam.

      "Potatoes? At breakfast?"

      1. re: lemons

        That, my friend, is not a "big" breakfast.

        A big breakfast is eggs, sausage, bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread. You'd want a couple of slices of toast, and marmalade after it, just in case you were in danger of getting hungry by lunch.

        1. re: Harters

          Oh, my, Harters, all respect to a proper fry-up. There was just a large amount of food - 3 teenagers in the group of 12 or so - and I wanted the Norske folks to try things our way. Not a herring in sight, and no cheese either. (One of those kids got married this summer and one of his cousins carried an immense box of Cap'n Crunch cereal to Iceland for his wedding present. But I digress, as I am apt to do.)

          Here's to toast and marmalade - but I do prefer my toast warm!

            1. re: ricepad

              You won't come across breakfast kippers too often in the UK - although often on offer in hotels, never in greasy spoon cafes. And, if they are on the menu anywhere, it's kippers or the full fry-up, not as well.

              1. re: Harters

                Saw kippers on a menu for a full English breakfast at a small hotel in Yorkshire, and ordered them along with the eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, bread, and pudding. The whole thing was enough for three, but I really loved the kippers. They needed rice, tho...!

                1. re: Harters

                  When are kippers most likely to be served?

                  1. re: EWSflash


                    They're most likely to be served as a breakfast. Not often at home these days but, as I mentioned in my earlier post, you'll come across them on the hotel breakfast menu, as ricepad did in Yorkshire. Ricepad's order was probably the first time the hotel had ever been asked for kippers along with the bacon & eggs.

                    They might appear as a light lunch, where they'd be eaten with bread & butter.

                    Or, in this house, we only ever have them as pate.

                    1. re: Harters

                      Yeah, the kitchen staff were probably laughing about the stupid Americans, but man, was that a good breakfast!

                2. re: ricepad

                  Love kippers, love fish that has that very fishy taste. First time I ate it was at a very snazzy hotel on the Upper East Side, name escapes me but it was the place where Vongerichten had his first NY restaurant. So there I was having breakfast (not in the aforementioned's establishment) and ordered kippers. The aroma was such that a German couple and their kid, who had taken the next table, insisted on being moved. (They just smell liked smoked fish. A LOT of smoked fish.)

                3. re: Harters

                  No beans?
                  Hi, Harters. How are you?
                  If I could eat a fry-up every morning, I would. There's a marvelous breakfast place locally that does them just right. :)

                  1. re: mamachef

                    Hiya, Marci. Long time no chat. Hope life is good for you.

                    Beans on the full fry-up might be regarded as a contentious issue. They are a reasonably recent inclusion and are often offered as an alternative to the tomato. I find myself in a dilemma here - silly old traditionalist that I am - in that I don't like the grilled tomato on the breakfast plate but do like the beans. The difficulty with the tomato is that, unless you know your greasy spoon, you don't know if you're going to get a grilled one, or a couple of tablespoons from a tin. I usually play safe and either have the beans or neither.

                    The village cafe does a good fry-up - two sausages, two bacon, fried egg, beans and toast for £3. Add black pudding and mushrooms for another £1.


                    1. re: Harters

                      It's nice to be back, John!! Sometimes, ya just need to take a break from the madness.. :)
                      I LOVE the beans. Adore the beans. Heinz vegetarian beans, to be specific. The place I frequent is called Lundy's. They have an extensive menu, and I've worked my way through it and can recommend literally anything they serve, but their versions of English or Irish b-fast makes the angels sing...Breakfast consists of two eggs any way, Heinz beans, black sausage, Cumberland sausage, bacon: thick grilled, buttered bread instead of toast (though you can choose biscuits when they come out of the oven if you wish.). The tomato is grilled correctly (and I LOVE them, too...) and by the time I waddle out the door (because I just HAD to order that "side," bahaw, of griddled potatoes w/ green onions and garlic), I'm pretty sure that G*d would serve this brekkie to people He really likes.
                      The charge for this wonderment? 7.95. Yes, you read it here.
                      I'm back to working at the fraternity, so I'll hop over to WFD one of these days.
                      How's the good Missus?

                      1. re: mamachef

                        Ahha, buttered bread.

                        So, my advice for your next time.......order the breakfast, but no beans and have the eggs so the yolks are not runny (or, at least, not very runny). Pile everything onto the bread. Now that, mon ami, is a world class breakfast sandwich.

                      2. re: Harters

                        Ah, that's where the grilled tomatoes on our recent cruise came from! I thought it a southern US kind of thing. I am dying to recreate them at home.

                        1. re: coll

                          coll, I have MANY many ideas and recipes for tomatoes. They are my absolute FAVORITE fruit/veg./whatever. And oh, yes: those grilled tomatoes are SO amazingly good; I make 'em all the time and not just for breakfast. They make a delicious side to grilled steak.
                          Anyhoo my point is, when you're unpacked and rested, hit me up and I'll send you some tomahto recipes. :)

                          1. re: mamachef

                            Oh I'm rested; I went last November during Hurricane Sandy and then again in June. The second time I saw them. I wondered how I had forgot! They seem to be oiled in some way first, and then grilled, but obviously on the ship over propane or some such, on an open grill.

                            Just harvested the last tomatoes from my garden, but only because some critter seems to have just discovered their presence. I am SO mad!

                          2. re: coll

                            In the British breakfast, I think the tomatoes and the mushrooms are the only hangovers from the very large breakfast selection of "odd things" that would have been available in Victorian/Edwardian times.

                            When I say "available", I mean to the upper classes, of course.


                            1. re: Harters

                              What a great article! Now I understand, I've had that exact meal but at the Irish joints we have here in NY. I fell in love with the black and white pudding instantly.

                              Here though, we say Bacon and Eggs, for some reason. Not Eggs and Bacon. Who knows why?

                              Anyway, the grilled tomatoes and the grilled mushrooms would be the first thing I went for, and I am SO glad I know the history of it all now, so thanks Harters: I must have been an aristocrat in a former life!

                              1. re: Harters

                                Great article, Harters.

                                Any advice (food or otherwise) for my son, who is in London for the next ten months? He is pretty adventuresome, foodwise, but not wealthy....

                                1. re: sandylc

                                  Best advice for the son is for him to check out the UK/Ireland board. It's mainly London-centric (with the occasional post from me and a couple of others about food elsewhere in our two countries). He'll need to pick through the "London standards" which always get recommended to tourists to find other places more likely to be of interest staying for a goodly while.

                                  He'll find good "Indian" and Middle Eastern food at reasonable price and, for a more British slant to his eating, pubs will be a good bet (some much better than others - effectively restaurants). He'll want to check out the discount bargain on TopTable (our version of Open Table and now owned by them).

                                  If he knows which area of the city he's going to be staying in, there are other restaurant review sites that might give him a more direct focus. Top Table can be helpful there, as can London Eating. I only visit the capital as a tourist and, often, am not visiting the central area. Chow tends not to be very helpful for the outer areas so I usually use those sites.

                                  Hope he has a great trip.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    Thanks! I'll pass it on. He has a room in Chelsea, and commutes to school at LSE.

                                  2. re: sandylc

                                    London has become a great food city. And drinks as well. Some amazing bars and restaurants. Last summer I spent a month working my way through as many restaurants and bars as possible. I had a grant to work in a cocktail lab and part of the grant meant experiencing as many restaurants and bars as I could fit in.

                                    I got a lot of good suggestions from the UK board here on CH. And even had a few London 'hounds email me with suggestions and we met up for a meal or drink.

                          3. re: Harters

                            And if you're Scottish, maybe some dessert after that brekkie.

                      3. I've learned to run when the menu states "breakfast potatoes".

                        My experience has been they are typically a deep-fried, (terrible) frozen potato chunk. Perhaps that's exactly why they are not calling them home fries, etc.

                        23 Replies
                        1. re: Clams047

                          I'm pretty sure that is what the box of pre-cut frozen potato cubes is called, and hence the name.

                          I was right, here you go (last item in the first box)
                          Guess they don't have any creative literature type people at these places.

                          1. re: coll

                            Yep - They do look very much like what I've seen served as "breakfast potatoes" - typically at hotel restaurants, but other restaurants as well. Obviously a sign to walk......if not run elsewhere.

                            1. re: Clams047

                              Did a quick search and found a lot of the "classy" chains serve "breakfast potatoes" - Shoney's, Perkins, Rain Forest, CoCos.....

                              1. re: Clams047

                                my first hit on BP was pioneer woman - they were roasted reds with bell peppers and onions

                                1. re: sandylc

                                  I too do not agree with the peppers in browned potatoes. Everything should be so browned on a grill in lots of grease, so dark that peppers would not stand up to the rest of the ingredients. Onions and potatoes only. But I find it's a very regional thing, so I will speak for NY only.

                                  1. re: coll

                                    Oh, sorry, I didn't necessarily agree with PW's potato recipe - I was just offering up that that's what popped up for the term "breakfast potatoes".

                                    1. re: sandylc

                                      Oh it's not you, a bunch of people mentioned peppers so I just had to chime in! But since "breakfast potatoes" is a weird term to me too, might as well throw in a few weird ingredients!

                                      1. re: coll

                                        Green bell peppers are a cooks dream for two long lost cooking techniques. One, it helps kill that "leftovers" taste for any hash, home fries , breakfast potatoes, etc.
                                        Two, it helps the clam chowder. But this application takes just a little and it disappears only to help the clam chowder.

                                        1. re: Gastronomos

                                          But a lot of people have digestion issues with bell peppers, so not always welcome uninvited in food.

                                          1. re: coll

                                            is that why the plethora of diner/restaurants on LI serve plain, unseasoned food?

                                            1. re: Gastronomos

                                              Bell peppers are not seasoning, nor any kind of all around desirable/acceptable flavor as far as I know. I do run into it here and there, but consider it more of an idiosyncracy, as opposed to the right way of doing things.

                                              1. re: coll

                                                Bell peppers are very good and contribute much to many dishes.

                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  And to me, they detract. I like other peppers fine, but not bell. To each his own.

                                                2. re: coll

                                                  I don't cook much with bell peppers, and never the green ones. Raw or cooked green bells are nasty. But I like the yellow, orange, and red ones raw. I especially like them roasted in olive oil. Then put on sandwiches or in spaghetti sauce. And I like other types of peppers, jalapeno, shishito, etc.

                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                    When I roast red peppers myself, I love them. But I rinse off the oils before dousing in pure olive oil, as my MIL taught me; I firmly believe it's the oils that cause indigestion.

                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                        If you roast peppers, you will see how much oil comes off them.

                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                            I've never seen oil come out of my peppers either when I roast them, but never know.

                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                              Far from it, what an odd thing to say to a Chowhound. I've been roasting red peppers for nigh on to 40 years, so I feel like I know a thing or two. There is something that exudes from them, an oily juice, and I need to rinse them clean of it when done. Whether it's technically oil or not, you should know what I'm talking about if you "roast many peppers".

                                                      2. re: JMF

                                                        There's not much better than a grilled green pepper on a hamburger. They need no other condiments.

                                                        It's about the only way I really like them anymore.

                                                      3. re: coll

                                                        I guess a mirepoix suits.
                                                        And I guess they had nothing to do with the holy trinity of Cajun cooking.

                                                        1. re: Gastronomos

                                                          Actually now that you mention it, I make a tasty Sauce Piquant with roasted red peppers, to serve with grilled Cajun meats like alligator. I can tolerate roasted bell peppers, as long as I roast them myself. And yes, rinse them too!

                                2. I agree. I've seen the same here around the NYC suburban area. and more often just "pototoes". as in "served with potatoes". usually a hidden meaning of, "flavorless starch filler on a plate".

                                  around here it's traditional "home fries". properly made with onions and green bell peppers, fried crispy in bacon fat on a flat top, and the old timers, all gone now, added a dash of ground cumin and a sprinkle of paprika for color.
                                  deep fried home fries are rare and places that served them that I knew are now all gone.
                                  now it's "breakfast potatoes" of plain boiled potatoes lightly warmed through on a flat top, nothing else.

                                  hash browns around here are usually found in chains, and are usually just shredded plain potatoes. if good, they are crispy. what they used to be was full of ground black pepper. ahh, the memories of delicious breakfasts of yesteryear.

                                  "potatoes O'Brien" are now becoming popular around here, but aren't called that. They are usually good because they contain a healthy dose of onions and bell peppers. but are usually deep fried instead of flat top made.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Gastronomos

                                    IME, home fries have potato and onion, but not bell peppers, the addition of which changes the name of the dish to Potatoes O'Brien.

                                    Hash browns in a restaurant are onionless. But frozen HB patties sold in supermarkets come both plain and with onion.

                                    Hash brown casserole has onion, bell peppers, and cheese, baked with a creamy binder that may include sour cream.

                                    I don't recall seeing "breakfast potatoes" on a menu. I used to travel around the Northeast US all the time but have not ventured far from the Boston area in over a decade.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      I agree with you on home/cottage fries; they don't have bell pepper. When I make any one of those 2, I also add red pepper flakes just to jazz it up a tad.

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        Embassy Suites notes "breakfast potatoes" on their web site. I'll be staying at one this upcoming weekend. It'll be interesting to see if they are passing off the frozen potato products as part of their made-to-order breakfast.

                                        1. re: Clams047

                                          Found "breakfast potatoes" on the menu at both a Holiday Inn breakfast buffet and a breakfast at an Embassy Suites during a trip this past week. Found no difference between them - both were really horrible, deep fried, frozen potato products.

                                          Haven't been to an Embassy Suites in a number of years. My recollection was them having an excellent breakfast. Not this time. Once again, with "breakfast potatoes" on the menu, I should have run.

                                        2. re: greygarious

                                          I've seen them on menus in Boston recently, but I can't recall where.

                                          I hardly ever eat at chains and never at breakfast.

                                          Now this is gonna bug me....

                                      2. While I have to confess I don't go out for breakfast all that often, I've never seen "breakfast potatoes". Though I can guarantee I wouldn't like the name either.

                                        Where is everyone seeing this? US? Regionally?

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: thimes

                                          May be regional. We recently spent three weeks in the States, driving through TN, NC & VA.

                                          IIRC, potatoes on breakfast menus were generally described as "home fries" when they weren't being described just as "potatoes".

                                            1. re: thimes

                                              I agree. I don't go out every weekend for breakfast but can't recall seeing "breakfast potatoes" here in Ohio.

                                              1. re: thimes

                                                All over here in STL. And piles of recipes in the recipe websites under that very name if you search for the phrase, which surprised me. It just sounds so danged evasive, IMHO.

                                                (Why, yes, I AM grouchy, thanks.)

                                                1. re: lemons

                                                  This just in: Two breakfast-focused spots in KC also offering them by that phrase on the menu.

                                                2. re: thimes

                                                  I've never seen it either though I also don't go out for breakfast much. I've seen hash browns and home fries which gives me an idea of what I'm being served.

                                                3. You a Yankee, ain'tcha?

                                                  I grew up on Fried Potatoes as part of a proper southern breakfast, especially when breakfast was biscuits (or cornbread) and (bacon or sausage) gravy and fried eggs.