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In search of perfect home-made hash browns

I love, love, love a nice plate of truck-stop hash browns, perfectly crispy and golden brown. And since I have no demonstrable need to eat more hashbrowns, I have kept them in the eating-out realm of my life. Never made them at home. Never wanted to. (I loathe grating things...)

The Hub has some other ideas, especially with loads of potatoes in the basement for winter. There have been hash browns of varying success rates in our home of late! I'm curious to hear from expert hash browners on the tips and tricks to make our hash browns great.

Pre-boil, or not? What type of potato? Butter, oil (what kind) or a combo of the two? Soak and squeeze out some starch, or leave it be? What pan? We've tried various things, but still aren't quite there.

What do you do?

Thanks so,

Cay

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  1. I have it!!!! Take a couple of lbs red potatoes band slice, with the skin on, into bite size segments. Boil in salted water until almost done, but not falling apart when touched with a fork.

    In a large skillet add about 3 of TBS vegetable oil with at least half a stick of butter and allow the butter to get carmelized. Add the potatoes and do not turn until crisp and brown on each side. Salt and pepper liberally. You can add additional butter as you cook to increase the buttery flavor.

    These are amazing. They're not low fat so I only make them a few times a year. The potatoes absorb the butter and make for a lovely flavor.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FoodChic

      Thanks FoodChic, and that sounds terrific! However, in my parlance these are not hash browns. :-) We always called them fried potatoes! (Which...duh, I guess they all are! LOL) May be a regional linguistic quirk. I'll be specific, as I should have been earlier, about the cut of potato: shreds.

      Any insights there? I do like the butter:oil ratio...mmmmm.

      Cay

    2. I've been doing it this way lately and they have been coming out great. I'm not sure if you are saying you don't want to grate, but I won't go back to anything else now. I'm not expert either, they are just fantastic tho.

      -russet potatoes (because I always have these on hand)
      -grated (regular cheese grater)
      -soak for about 5 mins (really its more like rinsing rice, they get a little soak tho)
      -Swish with a little lemon juice to keep the white color (just a tad)
      -drain
      -wrap in paper towel, squeezing extra water out
      -place in fridge, still wrapped in paper towel, for approx 10-20 mins
      -use a cast iron pan, with bacon fat, and a touch of butter, salt & pepper
      -turn only once

      And they come out nice and fluffy on the inside and crispy (but not too crispy, if you know what I mean) on outside. I think I get this from Alton Brown, but not sure. It seems to work every time.

      1. First of all, I'd recommend the Russet because it is low in moisture and high in starch.
        Next, I'd never try hash browns without shredding the potato. Other methods of cutting the potato into pieces just doesn't make the grade, IMHO. Country fries, home fries, and cubed fries, while good and certainly welcome at most breakfast tables, are not has browns.
        I don't par boil my Russets for hash browns
        I shred them, put them in a vegetable spinner to spin out excess moisture (there's usually very little) and then compress them slightly into patties measuring about six inches across and less than half an inch thick..
        I drop these into about half an inch of oil at about 350 degrees in my cast iron skillet and cook until lightly browned and crisp on one side, then turn them to finish the other side.
        I remove them to a folded paper bag on the counter to drain and add S&P while they're still nice and hot on the drain paper.

        2 Replies
        1. re: todao

          Do you have to grate by hand, or could you use the shredding blade on a food processor?

          1. re: adamshoe

            I don't own a food processor with shredding blade so I'm forced to use the hand grater. But it's not that labor intensive and requires less trouble for clean-up than the food processor so I don't mind.

        2. Yah wan low fat not fried but nice an crispy? Here's what I do these days. Grate the clean skin-on potatoes, squeeze the s&*t out of them (the liquid actually), toss in some salt and just a bit of oil and mix by hand, sprinkle into an oven tin, and bake / broil. No fuss, no muss, perfect. You cacn make patties or just sprinkle evenly, and if you do that you can add some beaten eggs on top!!!

          5 Replies
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            I don't give two s&*ts and a holler about fat content with hash browns! Isn't that what hash brown are about? :-)

            This oven method really intigues me, since I am a neophyte with has brown making ( v. eating). You say in your post to "bake/broil" but those methods are quite different. Can you elaborate on differences?

            So curious,

            Cay

            1. re: cayjohan

              Under the broiler or just in the oven - pretty much the same result.

              1. re: cayjohan

                Another way to make low-fat hashbrowns I learned on chowhound: use a waffle iron. If yours had reversible plates, then use the flat side, but you can also use the waffle-y side (not a deep Belgian waffle, though). And isn't a panini press about the same thing? The nice thing is that's faster because you can brown both sides at once.

                Otherwise, I've learned that the most important element of making hashbrowns with a crisp brown crust is to cook over a moderate heat and be v-e-r-y patient. If it doesn't slide easily when you tip the pan, it's not ready to turn yet.

              2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                HEY! I just discovered this method a couple of weeks ago! Dammit , i should have applied for a patent. Only dif, I put a bit of olive oil on a 1/2 sheet, get it really hot in a 400 degree oven while I'm shreding the potatoes. Then I just sprinkle them on and get that lovely sssss sound when they hit the pan...helps them start to brown and not stick. Let them brown (don't rush it) , turn w/ a spatula, let it get *almost* too brown, salt the heck out of it an eat.

                I wasn't actually trying to make low-fat hash browns, i was just bored and experimenting. It was only after my husband went berserk over them that I realized I had created low-fat hash browns.

                He liked them so much, he tried to make them himself. I forgot to tell him to squeeze the s&*t out of them, and it made a significant difference in crispiness.

                1. re: danna

                  Good with canned cranberry on top!

                  Actually, yes, I forgot that I brush some oil on the pan. Nothing sticks. Very crispy in a short period of time. We can share the patent.

                1. re: bear

                  Thanks bear! Enjoying the thread you mentioned.

                  Cay