We love hash browns. But, unfortunately, it’s come to our attention that some people don’t know how to make them. Over the years, we’ve learned that only about 50% of restaurants can make good hash browns, so we assume that that’s probably about the fraction of people out there reading posts on the Internet who can make hash browns correctly. If you’re one of those people who have trouble with this seemingly simple potato dish, we’re here to help.
This recipe, if you can call it that, didn’t really come from anywhere. Instead, it comes from numerous times standing over a grater and a burner, practicing. Like some of you, at one time we were hash brown novices.
One last thing: we called this post hash purples because we’ve used purple potatoes for ours. Ordinary potatoes will also work.
Any neutral-flavored oil will work. Any potatoes will work. Notice, no soaking, no placing in water, no pre-cooking; just grated potatoes. Onion is optional; use it if you like onion, omit it, otherwise.
Procedure in detail:
Heat skillet. This is the time to get out your heaviest-bottomed skillet. We use cast iron. Place it on the stove over medium-low heat and allow it to get hot — yes, with nothing in it — about 5 minutes.
Grate potatoes. While the skillet is heating, grate the potatoes. For just a few potatoes, we use a hand grater, which takes us about 5 minutes, just the right amount of time for the skillet to heat. No need to put the potatoes in water, squeeze them dry, or anything. Just grate them.
Add oil and potatoes. Pour the oil into the now-hot skillet, and swirl it around to coat the entire bottom of the pan. Place the grated potatoes in the pan and flatten to an even layer. Easy, right? If you’re using onion, you can grate it, or place diced pieces on top of the potato layer.
Fry 10 minutes. This is the hard part. Really. It’s tempting to look, but try not to. Just let the potatoes fry for 10 minutes. Don’t cover them, don’t push them around, don’t do anything. Just let them fry.
Flip. After 10 minutes, the bottom will be crisp. Slide a spatula under the potatoes to loosen — it should be easy, especially with a cast-iron pan — then flip. Ideally, we like to have them flip in one piece, but if it breaks apart, no worries.
Season. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. You should know how much you’d like.
Fry 10 minutes. Just as before, once the potatoes are flipped over, let them fry undisturbed for 10 minutes. This will ensure that both sides are crispy. Plus, the 20 minutes of total cooking time will cook the potatoes all the way through.
Serve immediately. Don’t give these babies a chance to get soggy.
The secret is the 10 minutes of frying on each side. The potatoes get nice and crisp on both sides, without burning, and are tender on the inside. Basically, these instructions can result in perfect hash browns (or hash purples), although you might have a slight learning curve while you figure out exactly where to set temperature of the burner. But that’s just part of scratchin’. Besides, even those hash browns that don’t turn out as well are pretty good. Five purple stars.