People always think I’m a lucky duck when I say that I grew up in Florida, but the truth of it is that I was young enough that I never really experienced the personality of the city, and the Miami that I lived in was not the one that everyone visits for spring break, or the one glorified on TV. It’s the one where we lived in a ranch-style house, with a pool in the backyard and pine trees in the front. Where we rode our bikes and climbed trees with the neighbors and walked across the street to tennis lessons three days a week. Life was without the glamour of South Beach and with a lot of suburban flair (at least in my mind. Mom might disagree). Anyway, I was eleven when we moved, so life from that time comes more in snippets than in newsreels, bits and pieces of memory that somehow form a complete picture of a childhood well spent.
One of the very clear memories I have was going to this place called The Chuckwagon for breakfast. We didn’t eat out often, and when we did it was a treat, and this was probably my first exposure to that grown-up thing called Brunch. The breakfast potatoes, though I can’t actually remember eating them there, are the ones that inspired Mom to make what she says is a copycat at home. These potatoes. This recipe. These Cheesy Breakfast Potatoes.
To call it a recipe is almost wrong. It’s more a method, and you are welcome to switch it up any way you want with onions and sauces and flavorings, but in its simplicity, only potatoes and cheese, it’s perfect just as so. You know when you go out to breakfast and order “home fries,” and what comes out are sort of dry, sort of cold, sort of under-seasoned potatoes without any sort of personality? Well, this is what you really want to eat. Make them at home because they couldn’t be easier and they really couldn’t be better.
The trick is to pre-boil the potatoes and then cook them with the cheese over medium-low heat until the cheese melts the potatoes together, bubbles and eventually forms that perfect crispy crust that is complimented perfectly by a large cup of coffee, a runny egg, a fluffy biscuit, a side of bacon and if you’re feeling virtuous, some fruit to wash it all down. The pictures don’t do them justice, and when I tell you that this serving for 4 actually just served me and Mom, don’t judge us until you’ve made them yourself. Only then will you truly understand.
- 4 medium-large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 TB olive oil
- 6 ounces extra-sharp shredded cheddar cheese (about 3/4 an 8-ounce block)
- salt and pepper to taste
- To a medium saucepan, add the potatoes. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender. Drain well.
- In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add the oil and the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are brown and all the moisture has evaporated. Spread out the potatoes into an even layer and add the cheese on top. Reduce heat to medium low. Leave alone while the cheese bubble and melt and leave until a crispy brown crust forms on the bottom, sturdy enough to flip the whole thing.
- Once you can flip the whole thing, do it and crisp up the whole thing the same way on the second side. Once that's done, drain the pan of any excess oil and serve with your favorite breakfast accompaniments.
Written while listening to the Glee Pandora station because it’s awesome (don’t you judge me because I just gave you this fabulous potato recipe).