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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

FreshTartSteph Recipe: Hash Browns

FreshTartSteph Recipe: Hash Browns

Stephanie Meyer

As I put together this post, I took a quick little poll on Facebook, asking for my friends' top three favorite foods. I was assuming that crispy potatoes in their various forms would solidly make the list. I can't be alone in my obsession with salty french fries, roasted potatoes, or potato chips...right?

Not right! Apparently I stand alone, like cheese (which did make the cut, big time, along with avocados, peanut butter, and bacon). Did no one else grow up pining for Taco John's potato oles (with extra seasoning)? Ah well. I'll share my hash browns recipe anyhow, for the days when a grilled cheese with avocado, peanut butter, and bacon just won't cut it.

Thanks to my Grandma Meyer, I set off for college with the ability to deliver a panful of these golden, buttery beauties to starving, post-party roommates. And boys. Perhaps not what she intended when she taught me to make them, but really, these are cheap eats of the highest order, face-stuffable on their own, or even elegant topped with sauteed vegetables and a poached egg.

The trick for crispy potatoes of any variety is an adequate amount of hot fat. Once you accept that, and don't stress out about it, because you're not going to eat them every day, you're all good. I most often use a combination of high heat vegetable oil (safflower or sunflower) with butter. But if I have beef fat, or chicken fat, or bacon drippings, or duck fat, you can bet it goes into the pan. The hash browns in the photo are kissed by beef fat, because I'd just made stock with beef short ribs, and saved the fat I skimmed from the stock. (Always do that! Wrap it up and freeze it and there it is, a little present to yourself when you're craving crispy potatoes.)
 

Hash Browns

Serves 4 (or honestly, 2)

A nicely cured cast iron skillet is excellent for putting a good crust on just about anything, but a nonstick pan works well too.

3 Tbsp. high heat oil (sunflower, safflower, or peanut; NOT canola), plus a little bit more
2 Tbsp. butter (or chicken, duck, bacon, or beef fat)
1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled
salt

Add oil and butter to a large cast iron or non-stick skillet.

Grate potatoes on the large holes of a box grater, or in a food processor with a grater attachment. As you finish grating, heat the pan over medium high heat until oil is hot. Working quickly, add the potatoes to the pan. Turn heat down a bit to medium/medium high (you want the pan hot enough to brown the potatoes, but without burning them). Press down on the potatoes with a spatula a few times while they brown so they form a compact cake. Do not flip them before they've formed a nicely crusty surface! Watch the edges of the potatoes to look for browning; it's fine to lift up an edge of the potatoes to check, but do your best to not mess with them too much.

Once you're sure they're uniformly browned, run a spatula under the hash browns so they're loosened from the pan. Place a large plate (larger than the pan) over the skillet and carefully invert the hash brown cake onto the plate (wear oven mitts). If the pan has no oil in it, add a little bit more, and return the pan to the heat. Slide the hash browns off the plate back into the pan to brown the second side. (Alternatively, cut the hash browns in the pan into quarters and flip each quarter with a spatula.) Brown the second side as you did the first, until nicely golden brown.

Slide the hash brown cake onto a cutting board, salt generously, slice into wedges, and serve immediately.

Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 in Permalink

Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Old to new | New to old
Jan 29, 2013 12:19 pm
 Posted by  KM

Stephanie, I had to comment to say you are not alone: I grew up totally obsessed with TJ potato oles, extra seasoning. And LOVE these! Thanks for the recipe.

Jan 29, 2013 03:10 pm
 Posted by  roselr

I also feel the need to comment on my love for TJ's oles...you are not alone! My sisters and I have been fans all our lives and anyone we bring to our home town also learns of their love for oles (with a side of cheese).

Jan 30, 2013 05:12 pm
 Posted by  S

You are right about the oil, not enough fat, not enough crunchy, browned goodness. Also, cooking good hashbrowns is like making a good grilled cheese - start with the heat than turn it down a bit. Slower and lower will result in more of that crunchy, browned goodness.

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TC Taste answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally bring the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Minnesota Monthly Senior Editor Rachel Hutton, Sustainable Food Correspondent Marie Flanagan, Home Cook Stephanie Meyer, Chef Jason Ross, Food Writer Joy Summers, and Drinks & Real Food Senior Editor Mary Subialka. Learn more about the TC Taste bloggers.

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