Ahh, the humble life of a potato... Such a simple starch and yet it has to be handled just right in order to do what we want it to. Case in point, the iconic hash brown.
I remember the first time I grated up a raw russet potato and cooked it in a non-stick skillet. Ugh. What a disaster! It was a thick glop of starch that never fully cooked. That and I hadn't fully embraced the brilliance of cast iron. I could put a nice brown crust on the outside, but the rest was a hot mess.
I actually found a slick way to make hash browns by rinsing off the excess starch by soaking the shredded potato. But, that isn't what I am working with here. No, it is September, and time for another Secret Recipe Club post. This month I was assigned to Cooking on the Ranch with Lea Ann.
Lea Ann has a lovely blog and I have a soft spot in my heart for real food cooks. Being a farm wife I love working with fresh and local food. She is proud of her "Wild West", Denver-inspired cooking. I was originally going to blog one of her Salmon burger recipes, since my freezer is full of locally caught fish, but my picky children won out and we tried out her hash browns. She has actually had several posts working through the kinks of making and perfecting her hash browns so I wanted to see if it held up to my soaking method.
Now, don't overlook the beauty of a good side of hash browns. They do require a little skill to execute well. They can also be used to make things like these adorable little egg nests.
So grab some russet potatoes and let's get cooking!
This method pre-bakes the potatoes before grating to keep the starch from gluing all those bits back together. It also drastically cuts down on cooking time. Just throw a bunch of potatoes in the oven and bake till almost done. They should not be soft though, so you can still grate them. I baked up several spuds and saved grated potato in the fridge to enjoy fresh hash browns later in the week.
A box grater is sufficient for this job.
Potatoes do an amazing job of sucking up seasoning. I seasoned my shredded potato as I grated. You will thank me later.
I have three tips for you here, first use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. It does a lovely job of crisping up the potatoes. Second, don't overcrowd your pan. A thin layer of potato will allow them all to cook evenly and brown up without burning. And my third tip is to go light on the butter or spray. If your pan is well seasoned you won't need more than a light coating. Too much butter or cooking spray will make the potatoes soggy and greasy. You want a nice crisp crust on the outside.
Don't move your potato around too much. Allow one side to crisp up before turning. See all that beautiful color?
Okay, now let's get to the recipe specifics. I know you are going to want to make your own hash browns after you see how easy it is.
Homemade Hash Browns
adapted from Cooking on the Ranch
You Will Need:
- 4 russet potatoes
- 2 tsp. butter + more as necessary
- salt & pepper to taste
Wash and bake your potatoes at 400 degrees for approximately 45 minutes. Let them cool completely.
Grate the cooled potatoes and layer with salt and pepper as you grate.
Warm up a cast iron skillet with 2 tsp. of butter to medium high heat. Just add enough butter or non-stick spray to keep the potato from sticking. Place a thin layer of potato in your pan to just cover the bottom. Save the remaining potato in the fridge to use later. Let the potatoes brown and crisp up before turning.
Now, that is my way to make potatoes! 4 potatoes is enough for me and the kids to enjoy hash browns for the week. We don't have them every morning, but I do like the idea of using fresh potatoes with no additives and even saving a little money at the same time.
Be sure to check out all the other Secret Recipe Club fun below: