Christmas morning breakfast is a tradition for many families, but in the midst of the excitement of unwrapping gifts and preparing to visit or receive relatives, few have time or energy for elaborate recipes. Not only are potatoes winter harvest vegetables, they make hearty comfort foods that fuel up the family for a day of traveling, caroling and revelry.
Begin by using a cheese grater or food processor to shred potatoes into a bowl. Coat a skillet or frying pan with cooking oil, add the shredded potatoes and cook over medium-high heat. You can stir frequently to keep the potatoes spoonable, or you can leave them until one side browns, flip them like a pancake and serve cut into wedges like a pie. This recipe is versatile and can satisfy many tastes. Try adding diced onion, garlic or green pepper or, for a spicy punch, mix some diced jalapenos into the potatoes before you cook them, or try adding herbs like sage, parsley or marjoram. Of course, topping the finished potatoes with cheddar cheese just before removing them from the skillet is a guaranteed hit. Best yet, shredding the potatoes and chopping the add-ins can be done the night before to save you prep time on Christmas morning. Store the potatoes in cold water until you're ready to use them to prevent them from turning brown.
Hashbrown casserole combines all the best parts about diner hashbrowns into a dish that can be prepared ahead of time and simply popped into the oven on Christmas morning. Using a cheese grater, shred six russet potatoes, and mix in a 1/2 cup of melted butter, 1 pint of sour cream, a can of cream of chicken soup, 2 cups of cheddar cheese and onions and spices to taste. Mix together in a greased cooking pan and, when everyone settles down to unwrap gifts, bake for 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven to have breakfast ready as soon as the unwrapping is done.
Potato pancakes or latkes are a traditional dish of Hanukkah, although their easy preparation and satisfying flavor makes them a fitting addition to Christmas breakfast as well. To keep the insides white and tender, Andrea Chesman, author of "Serving up the Harvest," recommends coarsely chopping the potatoes in a food processor and soaking them for one minute in a quart of water with 1 tbsp. of lemon juice or vinegar added. Drain the potatoes, adding two beaten eggs, chopped onion and salt and seasonings to taste. Form the mixture into cakes and fry in an inch of oil over medium-high heat, turning to brown both sides. To make your morning easier, prepare the potato mixture the night before. The cakes take only a few minutes to fry and will be ready in no time. Latkes are traditionally served with applesauce and sour cream for dipping.
Like hashbrown casserole, a potato bake can be made ahead of time and put in the oven to bake while unwrapping gifts and preparing other breakfast foods. Thinly slice four large potatoes and layer in a greased baking pan. On the stove, melt 2 tbsp. of butter with onion, salt and seasonings mixed in to taste. Drizzle the butter over the potato mixture, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.