My experience has been that frozen hash browns work better unless the fresh shredded spuds need to dry out a bit and seperate...although it's tricky.
Thus I use frozen ones. Heavy non-stick pan (calaphon), liberal amount of oil and butter, loft the spuds high (they compress and create the soft middle), pre-heat high then reduce to med-hi/med.
What I been liking is take a raw potato and peal it. If it's for more than one person you are cooking for then you need 2 potatoes. Shred the potatoes in a pan. Add water to cover the potatoes and boil on medium high heat for about 8 to 10 minutes, or just when the shreds turn limp.
Drain the shreds in a strainer and fluff them out the best you can over some paper toweling and dry them up some.
Take the Old Fashioned Black Cast Iron Skillet and spread some butter on bottom around to season it,
Now what I like best when I make mine is to add some shreds to the bottom of the pan just enough to cover the bottom, then I add some garlic salt and pepper. Not a lot. Then I sprinkle on some chopped onions. Now add the rest of the shreds.
Add a good pat of butter on the top of the shreds. Put the glass round Slow cooker cover or Fryer cover over the potatoes on between medium low heat and medium. Closer to medium low heat.
Let cook for about 15-20 minutes, depending on how much potatoes you have. More, much longer, or until the bottom has a good brown Crisp bottom to it.
NOW,,, Take and salt and pepper the top lightly of the browns and scrape the sites inward some with a stainless steel spatula, and carefully unstick the bottom where the browns slide around some. and
Take a small or medium side plate, put it upside down over the browns. Holding the plate with one hand and the pan with the other, then flip upside down. Put pan back on the stove and slide browns off of the plate back into pan and brown the other side on a little higher heat and cook another 10 minutes. NO COVER
Yes the cooking temperature is low for most people, but the potatoes will brown up and the slower cooking at a lower heat makes much more flavor.
So, we're looking for the best way to pan-fry some kinda tater shreds in some kinda fat. And debate emerges over the lines of demarcation and definition: When does one cook's hash browns become another's latke, become a rosti, become a potato pancake?
Spurred by this thread, and a desire to better my own "browns", I guess I'm gonna pull down the pan and make this the winter in pursuit of the perfect pan-fried shredded tater. For each of us the "best" may be different, but things seem to fall within 5 basic variables:
1 - degree of precooking: raw, semi, fully precooked. If raw: rinse starch, drain, dry, squeeze under pressure?
2 - plain shreds (grated v. julienned) or added starch/egg binders? Onion?
3 - Pan/fat: non-stick or cast iron? Minimal fat or lots?
4 - Shape: diameter, thickness. Diameter molded by edges of pan, or unmolded with splaying edges, or molded by metal cylinder forms?
5 - Turning: spatula flip if small vs inversion to plate if large, vs quartering to spatula flip if large.
So, let's all try what we want to achieve, for each of us, and report back to this thread with our succeses/failures/critiques.
To stimulate further inspiration, try these googles for presentation ideas for whatever variation you choose. Use the Google "image" feature for: hash browns / latke / potato pancake / rosti. Lots of beautiful pics will surface, some of them linked to recipes/techniques.
Finally, here's the finest "Ode to the Tater" I've found yet on the web, with multiple pics of stages of technique. Includes "latke, rosti, hash browns". Don't miss this guy's homage to the starchy tuber:
If you have found other "pictorial technique" pages, please post the links.
Bonne Pommes, mes amis.
Having tried a number of the techniques mentioned here as well as some others, I have surrendered to freshly shredded russets, rinsing the shredded spuds in water, drying them off, and then frying them in as thin a layer as I can given the size of the pan and the amount I am trying to make. Goose fat DOES work wonders for the reasons stated, but you can use olive oil and a more reasonable temperature if you use a non-stick pan and resist the temptation to turn the potatoes before they get good and brown, and then turn them as much as possible as a whole (I have even flipped them like a pancake); if the layer of potatoes is thin enough you can get away with just cooking them well on each side with one turn....
Hash browns are synonymous with kartoffel rosti, which is the art-form version of pan-fried spuds.
Here's how the Swiss do it. The night before, start with all-purpose (NOT mealy) potatoes. Boil them whole, unskinned, until about 3/4 done. Drain and put them in the fridge overnight.
The next day, peel and shred them. Then fry them in the biggest, heaviest pan that will comfortably hold them in a fairly thin layer. Use butter and oil, or a more interesting fat if you have it. Bacon fat is good. The heat should be medium to medium-high, whatever gives a good crust in a reasonable time. Fry on both sides, adding more fat for the second side.
Microwave a russet the day before you need. Refrigerate overnight. Shred it. Get the canola oil hot in a cast iron pan. Put the shredded potatoes in and let them cook until a crust forms, about 15 minutes, flip them over and your done. Season with ground chipotle pepper and good sea salt. Eat with ketchup or salsa.
growing up my dad made potatoes cut up into tiny cubes (not grated). i find these to be tastier than grated because you can get a better contrast between the crispy crust and a creamy center if you cook them correctly.
his secret? frying them in GOOSE FAT. goose fat has a higher smoke point than butter or regular oils so you can cook it at a really high temperature and it soaks in all that yummy goose fat. try it, you won't be disappointed. :)
What works for me:
Day old cooked russets, cast iron pan, good oil.
You have to give the potatoes time to crust.
Heat pan to more than medium heat, slice potatoes (your style ) and when ready to cook- coat pan with oil and place potatoes in pan- give the pan a good shake and leave them alone for at least 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and then turn over. I like to add diced yellow oninon. I plop in a butterpat before serving sometimes.
I take the quick 'n dirty route.
I purchase a 2 lb bag of pre-shredded hash browns at the grocery.
Heat my pan up, and pour in a good amount of canola. I pour 1/2 the contents of the bag into my large deep sided skillet, that's already been preheated.
When it's stopped being all crackly and noisy, I turn the heat down to Medium. And there it remains untouched til the edges get a tinge of brown. I seaon the top with fresh ground sea salt and freshly ground pepper...sometimes even some onion powder.
Continue on medium...and start the eggs!
By the time you're done heating your pan, making your eggs, and of course, your toast, the flip side should have a nice brown to it, and still be soft in the middle.