Crispiness is next to godliness

By Gabrielle Van Tassel
Updated February 13, 2018
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I don’t think I need to convince you that in the genre of breakfast, potatoes need to be extra crispy. Eggs are soft and require contrast if you’re going to properly wake your taste buds up early in the morning. It’s a jolt to the senses that immediately invigorates you, a reminder that the day ahead is yours to win. Breakfast potatoes are a firm base upon which a fluffy scramble can luxuriously perch. They’re a field of crunchy bits that readily welcomes runny yolks.  Flaccid, soggy breakfast potatoes are a waste of everyone's time. Who knows how many days have been wasted, life changing opportunities missed, all because of subpar breakfast potatoes. Today, we fight back.Hash browns are easy enough to get crispy thanks to the fact they’re shredded into tiny bits with lots of surface area. I didn’t know much about them until adulthood, because I grew up in New York City where hash browns weren’t a thing and I had never heard of a Waffle House. The only breakfast potatoes were home fries: pre-boiled slices of potatoes mixed with sauteed onions smashed and fried on the griddle next to your eggs. And yes, they were slices. Every recipe I’ve found on the internet says to use cubed potatoes, and I have no idea what these people are talking about. Maybe they’re from Long Island? You really want to trust people from Long Island?Slices are the best for home fries because, like I mentioned with hash browns, they have lots of surface area, and you can smash the hell out of them with the back of a spatula. Surly Greek men working the hot line in tank tops have no time to be gentle with your dainty potatoes. GREEK HULK SMASH.Hard rules of ultra-crispy home fries, which are easy enough to memorize:1. Use russets2. Slice right3. Parboil4. Dry well5. Rocket hot skillet6. Smashy smashyNow for elaboration, so you can have a firm grasp on these concepts.1. Use russetsThese are nice and starchy, and extra starch means extra crispy. They’re also quite fluffy and break down easily—which is why we use them for things like mashed potatoes—so they’ll smash up nice and good. 2. Slice rightYou don’t want paper thin pieces, because that’s Pommes Anna (another recipe for another day), and you want potato fluff between the crunchy layers. Remember: contrast. About ⅛-inch is perfect.3. ParboilThere are two reasons for this. One, you don’t want to end up with raw insides, which can happen with the hot and fast method; starch takes longer to cook than things like protein. Two, parboiling helps that starch swell up, meaning that when it hits the hot pan those surface granules will explode into a crispy, crunchy exterior. You don’t want to boil your slices to death, just until you can barely pierce with a fork, like how it feels when you are picking up a cucumber slice in a salad. 4. Dry wellWet potatoes in a pan = steamed potatoes. After you parboil, drain them into a colander, give them a good shake, then lay them out on a tray lined with paper towels. Water will drip off, and the steam will disperse into the air. If you want to add onions or peppers to your home fries, now is a good time to sautee them.5. Rocket-hot skilletYour best bet is cast iron. You want to get that thing the temperature of the flat top grill at a diner, which is hot enough to make you a full breakfast in less than 90 seconds. Next, coat the bottom with oil. You’re not deep frying, but you don’t want to chintz, either. Make sure you’ve got a solid even coat in there, around ⅛-inch if you like measurements. 6. Smashy smashyPut your potatoes in a small bowl, toss with some salt and pepper, and the onions/peppers if you went that way. Carefully tip the whole mess into the rocket hot skillet, spread out a bit with a flat-bottomed spatula, then smash those suckers down and make them sizzle. Give them a bit of time to brown up, then flip. It’s okay if they don’t stay in a solid mass since we’re not making hash browns or potato pancakes. It’s fine to be sloppy. Once they’re done, lift them out and spread onto your plate to let them cool a bit. And look at them. Take a few seconds to really appreciate those textured niblets of crispity crunchity starch. You put the effort in, and you deserve to enjoy your handiwork on all the levels. 
| Credit: PHOTO BY POPPYB VIA GETTY IMAGES

Take a moment to think about your favorite breakfast recipes. They probably consist of fried eggs, audibly crunchy hash browns, crispy bacon, and fried chicken and waffles—or really any deep-fried breakfast item. What do these breakfast staples all have in common? Crispy, crunchy goodness. Crispiness is the siren call of breakfast foods… even properly toasted toast can drive anyone crazy with hunger. To get your crispy fix, you don’t have to stick to breakfast classics.We’re all about trying new things like cauliflower hash browns, egg-in-a-hole avocado toast, and even vegan bacon (although the jury is still out on whether we can call it bacon). Are you drooling yet? Try to contain yourself while you read about our 11 favorite crispy breakfast recipes.

The internet is kind of over avocado toast, and, to be completely honest, so am I. But I will never take for granted the magical properties of egg, avocado, and toast, and neither should you.

OK, so they're not actually Scottish, but these breaded, sausage-wrapped hard boiled eggs are damn good, so don't knock 'em before you try 'em.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Mushy, soggy, not-browned potatoes do not belong on your breakfast plate, or any plate really. Would you settle for a limp French fry? No! Never settle for sad hash browns.

I won't lie and claim that these hash browns are healthy, but they're definitely healthier than their potato-y, starch-y forbearers and just as crispily delicious.

I have a serious romantic relationship with leftover takeout Chinese food for breakfast. I love it so much I don't even want to taint it by warming it up. This marriage of saucy, crispy chicken and sweet, crunchy Belgian waffles is a match made in leftover heaven.

The only thing better than putting bacon in mac and cheese and calling it breakfast is deep-frying it and putting it on a stick.

Other than French toast, and maybe the Statue of Liberty, quiche is the greatest creation the French have ever given us. It's a literal pie made out of eggs, cheese, and basically anything you can dream up. Putting a crispy layer of artfully woven bacon on top is way better than putting the icing on a cake.

I love portobello mushrooms, and I love bacon. Let's get something straight: mushrooms will NEVER be bacon. But these crispy little fried fungi are super delicious and well-worth a try. Plus they're a lot healthier than fatty, pan-fried pork belly.

Pakwan is a deep-fried, crispy flatbread and then cooked in dal, a tamarind-forward lentil stew. Try it with a variety of sweet and spicy chutneys... you're welcome.

If eggs and bacon aren't your cup of tea, you heathen, then this sweet, creamy, and, of course, delightfully crunchy breakfast tartine is the answer to your morning sweet tooth.

Whether or not you're hungover, fried seafood bathing in a chalice of spicy, alcohol-free bloody mary dip is the answer to your brunch prayers.