Potatoes and more potatoes...

December 31, 2013 

Had enough fancy holiday fare? How about something down to earth, such as potatoes? Everyone in my family loves potatoes fixed hash-brown style. I don't even care if I have anything to accompany them, as a plate full of just potatoes is fine with me. They do go quite well with fried eggs and sausage or bacon, though! I used to order hash browns whenever I had a restaurant breakfast, but not so much anymore. I know it's just a matter of personal preference, but I do not care all that much for hash browns made from parboiled or even baked, potatoes. I like to start my own version with raw, peeled russet potatoes that are shredded with an old-fashioned cheese slicer/..flat and rectangular rather than the type that has four sides like an open-ended box (easier to clean the flat ones).

I do try to squeeze out as much moisture as I can, so the hash browns do not come out too gluey or mushy. Most cooks I know rinse the starch from the shredded potatoes, but I like to leave some in so they hold together better. I also like to grate some onion into the shredded raw potatoes and mix in well before turning into a hot, oiled skillet. My electric skillet gives me fits, as it seems to have only two temperature settings: off and burn. I just use a regular nonstick skillet on top the stove, and heat up a little canola oil. Then I spread the potatoes and onions into the skillet, pressing down slightly to even things out. A few sprinkles of freshly-ground black pepper and salt, then brown one side, turn over with spatula and salt and pepper the other side. Once on my plate, I add some Louisiana hot sauce and I'm good to go. If you like hash browns, too, here are some recipes you might have fun trying.

Crispy hash browns

  • 3 tablespoons olive, canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 pound Russet baking potatoes, peeled and grated
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, pour in your preferred cooking oil and heat.
  2. While the pan is heating, squeeze as much moisture as possible from the grated potatoes. (If you have a potato ricer, that helps to compress the potatoes. Just don't force the potatoes through the holes. You can also use paper towels to absorb as much liquid as you can from the grated potatoes.)
  3. When the oil has heated to the point of shimmering but not smoking, add the potatoes to the pan, spreading them out evenly. The potatoes should not be thicker in one place than another, and not much more than half an inch thick. Add desired amount of salt and pepper to the potatoes.
  4. After a few minutes, lift up one edge of the potatoes to see how brown they are. If they have fried to a golden brown, they are ready to flip over. Use a large spatula to turn them over all at once, or divide the potatoes in halves or quarters and flip one piece at a time. Be careful not to splash any hot oil on yourself or the burner. Continue to cook until brown on the bottom. Makes 4 servings.

Cubed hash browns

Not all hash browns are made from Russets and not all are shredded.

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and 1/2-inch diced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons green onions (white and green parts), minced
  1. In a large skillet (10-to 12-inch), melt the butter. Add the potatoes, yellow onions, salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, giving the mixture an occasional turn with a spatula, until the potatoes are evenly browned and done.
  2. Turn off the heat and add parsley and green onions just before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Hash browns from baked potatoes

Start the baked potatoes the night before serving the hash browns.

  • 2 large Russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Scrub the potatoes well and dry with paper towels. Poke several holes in them to allow steam to escape. Place the potatoes on a small baking sheet and bake, uncovered, until tender, about 1 hour.
  2. Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in a plastic bag with a resealable closure overnight.
  3. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/3-inch dice. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the onion to a small bowl. Add the vegetable oil to the skillet and heat until almost smoking. Add the potatoes and cook until they form a crisp crust. Do not disturb the potatoes until the crust is formed, about 5 minutes. Check to see if a crust has formed; if so, give a quick stir. If not, continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the crust has formed.
  4. With a spatula, turn over large chunks of the crusted potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking until golden brown. Stir in the onion, season again with salt and pepper, and stir until heated through, about 3 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Hash browns with Canadian bacon

  • 2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped chives, plus more for garnish
  • 5 slices Canadian bacon, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  1. Grate the potatoes and onion into a large bowl. Squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the grated potato mixture, chives and Canadian bacon. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until it just starts to foam. Add the potato mixture and using a spatula or wooden spoon, press the potatoes firmly into the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low and let the potatoes brown and crisp for 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Once brown and crisp, carefully invert the hash browns onto a rimless large plate. Add remaining tablespoon butter to pan. When butter melts, slide the hash browns back into the pan. Continue to cook over medium heat until remaining side is dark golden brown and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes longer.

Remove to a cutting board and slice into wedges. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with chopped chives. Makes 4 servings.

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