Sunday, May 18, 2008

Queen of the Hash Browns.



This morning, I couldn't remember if i'd ever eaten hashbrowns. I've had my fair share of breakfast potatoes and frozen, packaged potato products like tater tots, but I have little recollection of hashbrowns beyond rehydrating gigantic cartons of dried potato shreds to fry for a summer camp.

I frequently ignore potato recipes. Baked, mashed, or gratineed, they've never struck me as intensely flavorful or interesting. I think of potatoes and I think heavy: dense potato salads, side dishes laden with butter and cream, or extra carbs that people want to avoid. Of course there are some exceptions; I love roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic.

On a whim, I decided to try this recipe for hashbrowns. Ruth Reichl really touts hashbrowns in Garlic and Sapphires. I was tempted by the process of a crispy potato cake that required few ingredients and little labor.

I loved these hashbrowns. They tasted just like I imagined they should: hot, crunchy, and well seasoned. Sometimes I forget how good the simplest recipes can be. Salt, pepper, and good butter go a long way. Since these hashbrowns cost less than a dollar to make, i'll definitely make them again soon.

Cooking hashbrowns is easy; as long as you heat the butter enough, you can ignore them until they're really, really brown and crispy. You'll smell it if they're burning. This recipe calls for 1 pound of potatoes for a 10-inch skillet; however, I used one large russet in an 8-inch skillet. Next time, I think i'll add some chives, scallions, or cheese.

Classic Hash Browns
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
serves 4

To prevent potatoes from turning brown, grate them just before cooking.

1 pound high-starch potatoes such as russets or Idahos, peeled, washed, dried, grated coarse, and squeezed dry in a dish towel (1 1/2 cups loosely packed grated potatoes)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter

1. Toss fully dried grated potatoes with salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

2. Meanwhile, heat half the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until it just starts to brown, then scatter potatoes evenly over entire pan bottom. Using a wide spatula, firmly press potatoes to flatten; reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until dark golden brown and crisp, 7 to 8 minutes.

3. Invert hash browns, browned side up, onto a large plate; add remaining butter to pan. Once butter has melted, slide hash browns back into pan. Continue to cook over medium heat until remaining side is dark golden brown and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes longer.

4. Fold the potato round in half; cook about 1 minute longer. Slide hash browns onto plate or cutting board, cut into wedges, and serve immediately.


Aran said...

It's funny because my husband said to me the other day... " how come you never make hashbrowns...?" It must be because I didn't grow up eating them and potatoes in the morning don't sound too appealing to me. And maybe because I admit, I don't know how to make them well!

Patricia Scarpin said...

I have never eaten hash browns, Lisa, and this is mouthwatering!

Luke said...

I always thought hash browns were not so good for you, but this recipe looks pretty healthy! Thanks for sharing.

michelle @ TNS said...

good goddamn, i love hash browns. these really do look perfect. they are the platonic hashbrown ideal.

Christina said...

Ah, you just brought back a family memory! My dad used to make hash browns often when I was little. I really enjoyed it because it was a treat compared to the usual home fries. I also like it made with sweet potatoes.