I love breakfast. Anytime. Anyplace.
I’m also the occasional lazy cook. <shrug>
I developed this…process over time and it seems to work no matter what I use.
Hash browns are pretty iconic. They are also pretty interchangeable. Potatoes are potatoes pretty much any way you prepare them. For ease and budget reasons, I keep tater tots in my freezer. Years ago I discovered that if you wanted some really radical hash browns without the work, let some tater tots defrost a bit before you put them in a hot skillet with a little bit of oil or butter. Smash em and let them brown. Crispy, crunchy and everything a hash brown aspires to be.
The only thing easier is to put them in the oven. Hmmm.
Set your oven to preheat at the temperature on the package of tater tots you are using. Usually this is 350 degrees, but it could be a bit higher. Line a baking tray with foil and put the required amount of tater tots on the tray. Once the oven is hot enough, put the tray into the oven and set your timer for 1/2 of the recommended cooking time.
In my house, the breakfast meat of choice is bacon. I like ham or sausage occasionally, but not enough to hassle with it at home.
If you are cooking bacon from a raw state, you might want to put this in before – or with – the potatoes. Check out this article from AllRecipes for more information.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and get out your broiler pan. Why a broiler pan? It allows air flow around the bacon and the dripping falls into the bottom of the pan allowing easier clean up and a lot less mess. Don’t forget to line the bottom of your broiler pan with foil. Save yourself work!
Lay the bacon side by side on the pan. You don’t need to put a lot of room between slices if you have a smaller pan or a lot of bacon, or both. Try not to overlap the slices.
Put the bacon into the oven for at least 10 but up to 20 minutes. Watch carefully because it can go from perfect to perfectly inedible in a flash.
NOTE: You can put the tater tots and bacon into the oven at the same time and temperature, but be mindful that you will need to adjust cooking times for both. I’d suggest using the 350 degree temp for both which will allow you a bit more time.
Waffles, Pancakes, French Toast
Remember I said to set the timer for 1/2 of the recommended cooking time for the tater tots? Frozen breakfast breads like waffles, pancakes, etc. can be heated to a perfect state in the oven.
Biscuits may take longer, but any frozen waffle, pancake or french toast strip can be put on the baking tray in that last 10 minutes and reheated.
When the timer goes off, put the breakfast bread of choice on the baking tray alongside the tater tots and return to the oven for the remainder of the cooking time for the tots. Check your bacon – if it is done to your liking, remove it and set it aside to cool. If not, leave it in the oven for a few minutes more.
Keep an eye on the bread items because they will heat FAST and get crunchy before you know it. Not a problem if you like your french toast or waffles in that state, but not really great for pancakes.
The last ten minutes are important. You will want to watch to be sure nothing gets overdone. This means you may be pulling things out before that 10 minutes are up.
While your oven is taking care of the majority of breakfast, you can spend a few minutes cooking your eggs. Or not. Your choice.
When all the component parts are cooked to your preference, turn off the oven, set the baking tray aside and dish up. If you used foil to line your pans, most of your clean up is also done. If you use precooked bacon, the cooking time will be seriously reduced – I usually add it onto the pan along with the waffles.
You can always precook a batch of waffles, french toast or pancakes and freeze them. I often buy a large quantity of tater tots to be used for a variety of meals, but you can also buy premade hash brown patties. I don’t recommend putting the shredded or home style versions in the oven as they are made more for cooking in a pan rather than on a sheet pan.
Ham and sausage are always options. Try them in the oven and see what happens. Of course, you could also cook them on the stove top while the rest is in the oven.
You might also find that my timing is off for your oven. It happens. The first couple of times you try this – and you know you will – make notes about what you tried and how it worked.