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Hash Browns diaster--need professional help :)

I need some professional help here :) !! I am learning to cook with SS pans (not wanting to use nonstick pans anymore...) I used an All Clad 12 SS pan, for starters. I grated the potatoes (Russetts) in my food processor first (after peeling). I used approx 2 TB of olive oil in a well-preheated pan. At first i thought they were ok but then began sticking (badly) to the pan, got a gummy consistency and never would actually brown again after i turned them once (i waited to turn them till the bottom looked brown and crispy). Now, i have a pan with badly stuck on potato, the potatoes never got done and i almost cried (till i remembered this was a learning experience and i could ask all you wonderful mentors). I have cooked them before in a non stick pan but i am determined to learn how to cook without it!!

Thanks in advance for your time, as always!!

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  1. Having used all-clad for over 35 years, I solved the sticking problem in two ways.

    1 Use a cast iron skillet.

    2 Use an oil that tolerates higher temperatures. Or use much more oil so that they float long enough to develop a glaze before hitting the steel.

    And don't be afraid to use your metal spatula to keep things loose while they are cooking.

    1. A number of factors influence the final result in hash browns, not the least of which is the type of potato selected. I prefer Yukon golds. Russets work well, if you like that variety.
      Once you've peeled and cut (grated) your potatoes, rinse them in a colander using cold water and wring out as much of the water/starch moisture as possible. Placing the cut potatoes on a towel, wrapping them up and twisting the towel does a pretty good job.
      Heat your pan before adding the oil. You pan should be at about 375 degrees when the potatoes hit the oil. Keep the potatoes moving in the pan for the initial few minutes, then allow them to brown.
      Be careful not to overload the pan. Too many potatoes in the pan causes them to steam rather than brown.
      That stainless steel pan will clean up more easily if you allow it to cool, fill it with hot water and allow it to soak for an hour or two.

      2 Replies
      1. re: todao

        todao, This makes sense....i did not rinse out the starch and think i did put too many in the pan. I did heat the pan first (learned that on CH!!) I will try your method next weekend when i try this again. Indianriverfl, i used to have a cast iron pan but gave it away...now i wish i had it for hash browns. :) mercifully, the pan is soaking :)

        1. re: jamaisa

          The all-clad owners ultimate friend, oven cleaner.

      2. My first thought before even reading was "I wonder if this will be a rinsing issue." I think todao has given a great suggestion. Rinse to get rid of the starch which is the probable cause for gumminess, and don't crowd your pan.

        1. My hash brown recipe, cut and pasted from an old thread:

          This whole subthread will get moved to HC -- as it should -- but here goes: it turns out there are several keys to perfect shreddy hash browns, some of which are extremely counter-intuitive. Here's what I do:

          1. Begin heating my Lodge two-burner griddle (flat side up) over very low heat on the stove.

          2. Run one large potato per person through the shredding disk on my food processor.

          3. Dump shredded potatoes into a mixing bowl and fill bowl with cold water. You want the water deeper than the level of the potatoes by a couple inches (they should float or come close), so that the starch on the shredded raw potatoes washes off into the bottom of the bowl. Swirl them about with your hands to make sure they're not sticking together from the starch.

          4. Line a colander with a cotton or linen kitchen towel and lift the potatoes by hand out of the water and into the colander. (If you pour the water through the colander, you're just recoating the potatoes with the starch you've just washed off.) Pick up the kitchen towel, with the potatoes in it, by all four corners with one hand. Use your other hand to squeeze the bejebbers out of the potatoes. You will be amazed how much liquid comes out of them. By the time you're done squeezing the potatoes and tightening the towel, you will have something that looks like a fabric-covered water balloon.

          5. Dump the now perfectly dry potatoes into a different -- clean and dry -- mixing bowl and fluff them back into separate shreds. Toss with a lot of salt and pepper. I often add a dash of Penzey's toasted onion powder as well. Real onion has too much water in it for my purposes.

          6. Remember that griddle? It's hot enough now. I turn the heat down as low as it can go on both burners and drop the potatoes in two loose but compact piles. (Note: I'm usually making these potatoes for two people, though I've done them for four as well, just with larger piles of potatoes and longer cooking times.) The finished piles, for two people, tend to be about five or six inches across and maybe 3/4th of an inch high.

          7. You'll note that I didn't grease the griddle. That's because it turns out that the less oil there are on these potatoes, the crispier and tastier they are. (I told you it was counterintuitive.) Normally, I drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil over each cake at this point: that's genuinely as much as they need, and honestly, you could leave that out if you wanted.

          8. Now I take a pair of lids from our Revereware saucepans and place them over the potato cakes. I learned this trick from a diner in St. Paul. While the bottoms of the cakes are browning on the griddle, the rest of the cake is steaming through and therefore cooking more quickly.

          9. After about eight minutes, I take off the lids and flip the cakes to brown the top side. At this point the potatoes are cooked through, so you don't want to put the lids back on: the key now is crispiness, and they'll only get that if they're uncovered. If the side that had browned first is a bit soft for my liking, I flip them back over for a couple minutes after the second side has browned.

          10. Serve to general plaudits.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jenny Ondioline

            THANKS JENNY !!! :) It sounds great!!

          2. I learned a long time ago that one of the keys to cleaning a SS pan is to as soon as you remove the food, add enough water to cover the bottom really good and add one drop of liquid soap, bring to a boil an let simmer for a few minutes. Any stuck on food should release. Another key to SS pans is that if you were at a high enough temp about 375 when you add some oil and then add your food this will help also. Most foods will cook well but if something does stick that is the reason many cooks and chefs add some liquid to allow the stuck on bits to release. Hope this helps you.

            1. As others have said, make sure the potatoes are dry, get your pan hot, and, of course, use some hamburger grease.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit

                potatoes and food pros don't play well together. use a box grater for this.

              2. Rather than grating your potatoes you should slice em cross ways into 1/8 slices, make managable piles and then slice em again the other way into mini 1/8th french fries. Match stick taters. Use enough oil to float them till done, Not Burnt!. Drain on a paper towel. You can fluff them up an make a nest with a poached egg on top and good accouterments , or flatten while you fry into a tradition hash brown cake. Better technique than grating.