When I order breakfast I always get eggs, but not normal eggs.  Eggs that have been taken over by greasy sausage, drowned in cheese, and cracked out with the hottest peppers possible.  Not once in a restaurant have I ordered pancakes or a sophisticated egg dish.  Everything with this breakfast plan was going just fine until Paleo came along.

For those of you who don’t know what the Paleo diet is, I’ll quickly explain.  First off, I’m not sure you should refer to it as a diet.  Rather, it is a lifestyle.  A lifestyle that tries to mimic what our ancestors ate in the wild: animal meat, fish, vegetables, minimal fruit, nuts, and seeds.  This means no gluten, rice, sweets, and (gulp) dairy.

We’ve done this diet before and honestly I can say that it works well for my body, but is difficult on the brain.  First off, I’m highly addicted to sugar (for those of you who don’t think it’s a drug – think again).  Those first few days are torturous and filled with mood swings, short snappy remarks, and a severe lack of energy.  But within a week, like all things, your body adjusts.

Breakfast is the most critical part of the day.  If we don’t get enough quality calories within the first few hours of the morning all hell breaks loose.  It is like being an alcoholic and going to a bar.  You are immediately turned into a bottomless pit devouring everything insight.  To help combat this detrimental state, we eat a lot of eggs.

Eggs are a great way to start off the morning.  They are full of protein, which helps keep you full longer, but eggs sometimes activate my gage reflex.  To help trick my brain, I’ve traditionally used cheese and toast to mask the egg flavor.  Since cheese is out now, we’ve resorted to all different types of egg dishes including sautéed vegetables, truffle salt, and sizzling bacon.

But we keep returning to one, poached eggs.

I’d never had a poached egg until a few years ago.  It’s different.  Almost un-egg like.   On top of a hash brown cake and mixed greens, this breakfast tastes refined yet delicious.   The green onions and fresh cracked pepper offer an additional bite.  This is a breakfast that has us coming back for more.

Poached Egg with Scallion Hash Brown Cake Adapted from Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller
Serves 2

You will need:
~ 4 eggs, at room temperature
~ white vinegar
~ 2 medium sized russet potatoes (makes 2 cakes)
~ ¼ cup cornstarch
~ 1 bunch green onions
~ canola oil
~ mixed greens
~salt and pepper

First, let eggs warm up to room temperature.

Peel potatoes.  Using your food processor’s coarse shredding blade, shred potatoes.  Rinse potatoes and spin dry in a salad spinner.  Mix in cornstarch to evenly coat potatoes.  When “on Paleo” we omit the cornstarch.  While it does help the hash browns stick better into a cake, it all tastes the same.

Divide the green onion into two parts: green and white.  Dice the white part and reserve.  Cut the green part into narrow 3 to 4 inch slices.

Heat canola oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat.  When oil is simmering, add ¼ potatoes and top with half of the 3-4 inch green onion slices.  Season with salt and pepper and top with another ¼ potato mixture.  Do not push down on the cake.  Let cook for about 7 minutes per side (or until golden brown) and flip.  Season again with salt and pepper and cook for another 7 minutes.  If needed add more oil after flipping and after 1st cake is done.

Repeat until all hash brown cakes are made.  To keep each cake warm, place in an oven heated to 200°F.

To poach the eggs, heat about 2 inches of water and a splash of white vinegar in a saucepan over medium-high heat.   Temperature is key to poached eggs.  We have an instant read temperature thermometer that makes this part VERY easy.  Once the temperature of the water is around 175°F (no greater than 185°F and almost simmering), swirl the water in the center and gently crack in the egg.  You can do two eggs at once, but make sure your pan is big enough.  After a minute, I usually scrap the egg gently around to break it off the bottom of the pan (otherwise the pan is difficult to clean later).

After egg white has set (about 3 minutes) remove with a slotted spoon.

Serve two poached eggs on top of mixed greens and hash brown cake.  Top with reserved green onion white part and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.