Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Grandma and Grandpa's Breakfast Potatoes

This weekend I found myself in the kitchen of all kitchens, the birthplace of comfort food.  Mecca to many a home cook who strives to show love through the meals they make.  I spent the weekend in Grandma and Grandpa's kitchen.

 1984...  Too young to cook.
Where do I even begin?  Do I start with the mixer that's four generations old?  Or the monkey bread that may lead to an angry phone call from my grandpa's cardiologist?  Or the 100 mile round trip journey into the next state for a fried chicken dinner that sealed the deal on elastic waistbands for the rest of my weekend?

Let's start with these people.  Louis and Lois Crowe.  Next year they will have been married sixty years.  Every evening before bed, she takes his breakfast order.  And every morning, she wakes up and does the crossword puzzle in the Joplin Globe.  When Grandpa wakes up, he sits at the kitchen table drinking black coffee and watching CSPAN while she fixes the breakfast he ordered the night before.  And Grandpa's not the only one with breakfast privileges.  When I woke up on my first morning at their house, I walked into the kitchen to see the best looking breakfast potatoes I'd ever laid sleepy jet-lagged eyes on.  I happily scarfed them down on the first morning, but on the second day, I thought it would be best if I shared the recipe with you.  Thanks, Grandma, for letting me follow you around the kitchen snapping pictures while you made me breakfast.  Now if I'm ever hit with Midwest nostalgia, one of you faithful readers can whip up a batch for me.

These potatoes are a hearty homeland comfort breakfast.  This is the simple version, but you could certainly jazz the recipe up with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh chives.  I'll show you the method, then do what you will with it.

First, peel a Yukon gold potato.

Now slice your potato veeeery thinly.  We used a grater, but you could also use a mandoline slicer or a sharp knife.  If sliced potatoes aren't your bag, feel free to grate them into shreds.

They don't need to be perfect, just thin!

Now heat some oil in a skillet.  My grandpa is Italian (pronounced eye-talian), so we used extra virgin olive oil.

Let the oil get HOT!  It should be shimmering.  Hot oil = crispy brown potatoes!  Now add your taters.  They should sizzle when they hit the pan.

Now...  Because it's the Midwest.  And because I was on vacation.  And because Grandma says so.  Throw in some onion flakes. 

Of course, if you don't have flakes on hand, use chopped onion instead.  Throw some salt and pepper in here as well.  Don't stir anything around just yet...

See that brown crust?  You're on the right track!  Now flip your taters with a spatula!

Now pop a lid on the pan for a few minutes, so the potatoes cook all the way through.


Serve these bad boys alongside a fried egg and some toast.  Don't be afraid to add more salt and pepper!

Grandma and Grandpa's Breakfast Potatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yukon gold potato
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons onion flakes

Heat the oil over medium high heat until shimmering.

Peel the potato, and slice it thinly using a mandoline slicer or a very sharp knife.  Add the potatoes to the hot oil.  Season with salt, pepper, and onion flake. 

When the edges have browned, flip the potatoes and cover for 5 minutes, until potatoes are brown and tender.  Season with more salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with eggs, black coffee, and CSPAN.


  1. I love the very first pic in this post. Like so much that I'd frame it & hang it in my kitchen. And I just love the post in general. Look at that color on the potatoes! I need a proper lid for my frying pan! You as a chubmonster in 1984 is adorable. All hail Lois & Louis & Mary!

  2. I wish I had someone to take my breakfast order every night; that's now become a criteria for a future spouse.

  3. Mary, I have been "lurking" on your site for some time now enjoying your exceptional talents in the kitchen and as a writer. I know your beautiful Grandparents well. Your Dad was one of my best friends in high school and my then boyfriend (your father's closest friend) and I spent many happy hours at your grandparents' home. All of the aforementioned (including your Dad who is the wittiest person ever) are some of the best people I know. I even knew you when you were about the age in the photo above. My husband and I spent some time with you, your Mom and Dad in SF and had a magnificent time. You were a delightful toddler then and have obviously become a beautiful and talented young woman. I hope you don't mind the lengthy comment but seeing Louis and Lois brought back some wonderful memories!

    Susan Mendenhall Longmire

  4. Susan thank you so much for your very special comment! My grandparents are incredible and inspiring people, and it never ceases to amaze me how many lives they've touched. I'm glad you and Dad have kept in contact over the years, he's a very funny and very good man :-).

  5. I think i'm going to buy potatoes JUST so i can make these! Wow, they look delish!


Related Posts with Thumbnails