There’s nothing wrong with poached eggs on toast, but why not try eggs atop a vegetable from the garden? Egg and potato recipes are classic for breakfast. When my sister, Eloise, told me she used potato skins instead of toast for an eggs Benedict-style breakfast dish, I tried it with halved potatoes, baking them whole first, then cutting them in half and pressing them flat, and finally frying them in butter until crisp. I leave the skins on because they’re full of vitamins and because they hold the potatoes together.
This dish takes longer than eggs on toast, but it’s great for a slow Sunday morning, and the pseudo-hollandaise sauce I put on top is simpler to make than the real thing. Its golden color comes from adding a pinch of saffron to a cream reduction, not from beating butter into egg yolks. Saffron is an expensive seasoning, but you don’t need much, and I find a 1-ounce tin lasts me at least three years. No saffron? Use paprika or turmeric for color.
Make this a complete meal by serving steamed spinach or kale on the side, and fruit for dessert.
• 4 large baking potatoes
• 4 tbsp butter
• 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated or pressed
• Pinch of saffron
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 8 large eggs
• Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the potatoes until soft inside (up to 11⁄2 hours). When they have cooled slightly, cut in half lengthwise and place on a cutting board, skin-side-up. Pound lightly with a mallet until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Melt the butter in a large skillet and fry the potato halves skin-side-down over medium heat for a few minutes, then gently flip with a large spatula and fry on the other side until crisp and golden brown. Do this in two batches if needed. Turn off the oven and set the potatoes aside on warm plates or a baking sheet in the still-warm oven.
2. Rinse and wipe out the skillet. Pour in the cream, then add the garlic and saffron. Reduce the cream by simmering over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it is the consistency of thick hollandaise sauce, about 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and stir it in thoroughly. Remove the sauce from the heat and keep warm.
3. Poach the eggs in an egg poacher or in a small, 2-inch-deep skillet, no more than four eggs at a time. If using a skillet, add a teaspoon of white vinegar to the water to keep the egg whites compact. Break the eggs into the water and simmer gently. Set two potato halves on each person’s plate, and when the egg whites are no longer runny, lift each egg with a slotted spoon to let the water drain, and place it on a potato half. (Don’t worry if the eggs overcook; they’re good that way, too.) Generously spoon the sauce over the eggs, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
Want to learn more about cooking with potatoes and garlic? Read Growing and Cooking with Potatoes and Garlic for delicious ideas and recipes.
Barbara Damrosch farms and writes with her husband, Eliot Coleman, at Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine, where sturdy bowls of potato soup frequently chase the chill on cool, fall evenings. She is the author of The Garden Primer and, with Coleman, The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook.