I’ve eaten breakfast in many places around the world, and its fair to say that anywhere you wake up to a meal that place probaby has it’s own style of morning eats that defines it as a culture.
At home, I tend to spread a little jam on some toasted slices of sourdough bread and munch on that while I sip my fresh brewed coffee.
But I wouldn’t exactly call my toast a ”Canadian Style” breakfast.
I’ve long had an affinity for breakfast as a meal. In my previous job my boss liked to host Friday morning meetings at the local greasy spoon diner with a plate of runny-yolk eggs. Our running crew is affectionately named the “Breakfast Run Club” because we often meet outside a breakfast place for a run followed by a morning meal. I’ll be the first to wake while camping specifically to get a start on a hearty skillet-fried breakfast. And lacking a better option for another meal of the day, I’m happy to repeat breakfast for lunch, dinner, supper, or even an evening snack.
But what defines a ”Canadian Breakfast” is tough to say.
The local fast food chain A&W, famous for their root beer and hamburgers, jumped with both feet into the breakfast market about a decade or so ago and differentiated themselves from the ‘egg on a muffin’ chains by serving a fresh, plated, ”Canadian” breakfast, probably based off of any of those greasy spoon places I mentioned previously. I’ve indulged more times than I care to admit, and it’s probably as close as I can come to appropriately pinning down a breakfast that defines the country culturally.
What’s on that plate?
A pair of eggs (any style), two slices of toast, some crispy bacon strips, a duo of breakfast sausages, a pair of fresh tomato slices, and a patty of hashbrown.
Any of those items listed are foods I’d claim a confident level of skill to make… except one.
The hashbrown, as much as it’s just fried potato is finicky to get right at 7am.
1 or 2 medium potatoes, grated
half a small onion, chopped or grated
15ml vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
The grated potato needs to be washed (to rinse out a lot of the starch) in cold water and then patted dry on a towel. The egg and oil need to be beaten lightly together. Then all the ingredients can be mixed in a bowl until a thick and even potato slurry of a sort is ready to cook.
On a hot cast iron grill, I like to use my large flat top plancha, spread the mixture into a large flat slab, no thicker than a pancake.
When the edges of the beast start to brown and crisp, you can portion it into more managable chunks with the edge of your metal spatula, then flip and grill the other side until both sides are crisp and the interior is cooked to your desired doneness.
The result is kind of fried mat of potato. It’s not much of anything like the industrially shaped discs of deep fried starch madness that one would get at a local fast food place, but it’s very much like the hash served at some of my favourite greasy spoons.
Tho as much as I can cook eggs to nearly any style and have master techniques for near-perfect bacon (and shouldn’t even need to mention the almost flawless sourdough loaves I’ve been baking lately) the perfect hashbrown is still not quite on my list of confident culinary skills. I suppose if I want to be a Canadian breakfast master, I’d better fix that.