I recently had a conversation with a friend about how much we love In ‘n’ Out Burgers- the West Coast burger chain that inspires groupie-like devotion. I mentioned to her that- though I love the flavor of their burgers- it is the partnership between the burger and the fries that does it for me. Those fries taste clean and potatoey. Cut onsite from fresh potatoes, they are just amazing.
Homemade hashbrowns have that same quality without the hassle or mess of the deep-fryer. If you’ve never had hashbrowns made with fresh potatoes, you’re in for a treat. And like the burger and the fry, they are soul-mates with rich, golden pasture-raised scrambled eggs.
Making hashbrowns is more of a technique than a recipe. The only doggoned ingredient is potatoes.
2 large starchy potatoes such as Russet, sometimes referred to as baking potatoes. Your hashbrowns can only be as good as the potatoes of which they’re made. This is a dish in which high-quality farmer’s market taters will really reveal their magnificence.
Prepare the potatoes
1. Preheat the integrated griddle of your range or a 12” cast iron pan. The griddle should be set to the highest heat setting and the pan should do likewise. If the pan starts to smoke, adjust the temperature to medium and then bump it back up about 2 minutes before you add the potatoes. Heat is the friend of hashbrowns. They have a lot of water content, so the high-heat encourages the moisture they will generate to evaporate quickly and allow for the best browning.
2. Thoroughly wash the potatoes.
3. Fill a large bowl with the coldest water you can run from your tap.
4. Grate the potatoes with either a box grater (biggest holes) or the grating disk of your food processor. Transfer the potatoes into the water.
5. Rinse the potatoes. Drain the water off the potatoes and refill the bowl. Repeat until the water is clear when refilled, about 3 rinses. Drain one final time. You must wash the superficial starch off the potatoes or you will end up with a gummy clot of potatoes for breakfast. Gack.
Cook the hashbrowns
1. Pour enough olive or grapeseed oil into the pan or onto the griddle to really slicken the pan. Err on the side of generosity. The oil is essential to proper browning and to prevent sticking.
2. Grab a handful of grated potatoes. Squeeze them tightly to remove excess water. Place them into the prepared pan carefully. Keep your distance as the oil and water may create some initial splatter.
3. Keep adding potatoes in this way until they are all in the pan. Smooth them into a loose, single layer no more than 1”deep. Too deep a layer will result in too many steamed- rather than browned- potatoes.
4. Allow the potatoes to cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes, checking as the 5 minutes approaches by peeking under a corner with a spatula to see if anything is starting to burn. You want an evenly brown crusty layer on the bottom before you turn them.
5. “Stir” the potatoes by flipping them over a few times with a spatula. Redistribute them into an even layer again and cook for another 5 minutes.
6. Repeat step #5 above one more time. Cook until they taste done, adjusting seasoning as needed.
7. Serve the hashbrowns in a bowl that has been warmed in a 200-degree oven.
Season the hashbrowns with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, forgetting for a moment that it contains MSG.
Add ½ of a small very-thinly-sliced onion to the grated potatoes, which will cook along with them.