Sunday, April 27, 2014

Make It From Scratch: Hashbrowns

It's been a short while since I posted, and I'm sorry for that if you have been checking in.  I had to take a little break for Easter, and I was even sick for that holiday.  But having the house to myself all day on Easter was not depressing, it was, in a word, bliss.  Even though I was sick and I felt horrible, having hours to myself was very restorative.  I recommend it to every parent out there, minus the being sick part, naturally.

Crispy potato goodness

Today I am very excited to share with you how to make your own hash browns.  These are, arguably, much cheaper to just buy frozen, but not if you want organic.  Potatoes are one of those foods that if you can, you should buy organic because they store more pesticide residue in them say, sweet potatoes.

Our family eats a lot of hash browns for breakfast, because we prefer cheaper and more nutritious foods.  Meaning, no breakfast pastries or cereal at our house.

These make a perfect accompaniment to sausage patties, ham, or bacon, along with some delicious fermented vegetables and some fresh avocado.  I prefer mine plain, not drowning in ketchup like the rest of the family likes them.  Blech!  Honestly I think putting ketchup all over your potatoes basically cancels out any possible nutrition you are getting.  And potatoes aren't exactly the most nutrient dense starch out there.  But a mom has to feed her kids something!

There isn't really a recipe for home made hash browns, more like a method.


When I make hash browns, I cook 5-10 pounds of potatoes at a time, because it doesn't take much longer to do a large batch, and then you only have to wash your equipment once and you are set for a quick breakfast (or lunch, or dinner...) for a week or even two, depending on the size of your family.

First, wash and peel your Russet, or baking potatoes, or you can use yellow potatoes or white.  They all work, but Russet potatoes cook up the best, getting perfectly crispy and perfectly tender in the middle.

Ready for their steam treatment

Place your peeled spuds into a large pot (like a pasta pot) with a steamer basket in the bottom.  Fill the pot with about 1-2 inches of water, and set it on the stove.  Turn it up to high, and once the water is boiling, turn the heat down to medium and cover the pot.

Steam your spuds about 15-20 minutes, then check for doneness.  Since we will be cooking them further when we fry them up, your spuds should be only about halfway cooked when you take them off the heat.  Otherwise, your hash browns will be hard to shred, and then they will get overcooked.

Cook your potatoes about half way done

With a large spoon, scoop the hot spuds out onto a cookie sheet/sheet pan and let them cool to room temperature.  Then pop the tray into the fridge to chill overnight.  This is the secret to perfect hash browns, people!  Leftover cold cooked potato!  You can even skip these first steps, and just used cold leftover baked potatoes from last night's dinner to make hash browns, we just eat so much that it makes sense to cook our potatoes specially for hash browns.  And my kids are picky and won't eat hash browns with potato skin in it.

Cooling spuds

Now here comes the fun part.  The next day, get your nice cold spuds and shred those bad boys.  I use my food processor, because, duh, 10 pounds of potatoes to shred.  A box grater also works perfectly.  Little people like to help with the shredding, too!

Helpers make crispy potato heaven come sooner

Half of my mountain of shreds

Mountain of shreds, ready to fry

 Now you are ready to cook some of these up!  Preheat your griddle, cast iron pan, or electric griddle.  We use a cast iron stove top griddle that came with our stove.  I have also successfully made these on a cast iron griddle that was a 12 inch round, the Lodge preseasoned variety.  If you have a nonstick pan or electric griddle, you can certainly use that, too.

You want your pan preheated on medium to medium-high heat, depending on your stove and pan.  I use medium low heat with my gas stove, it runs hotter than an electric stove.

Grease your griddle with some nice solid cooking fat like coconut oil, lard, tallow, or bacon fat(these fats are best for cooking).  Put some of the shredded potatoes on your griddle, in a nice even layer about an inch thick.  Keep them together in a nice square or rectangle.

Make a flat pile of shreds

Now, season with salt and pepper if you like, and DO NOT TOUCH THEM.  This is where most rookie screw things up.  You want the potatoes to brown and get crispy, and they never will if you fuss with them.  Nobody wants steamed shredded potatoes for breakfast.

After about 5-10 minutes, you may see some browning around the edges of the potatoes.  Now you may carefully lift up an edge with a spatula and check to see how brown your spuds are.

Needs some more browning time

 In the picture above, these are browning, but not quite browned enough.  I will give them about 3-5 minutes more.

When your hash browns are nice and browned, flip them!  I break the big rectangle up into serving size portions as I flip them over.

It's breakfast time!

And you are done!  Turn off your griddle and serve up some home cooked love on a plate!

From start to finish when you are browning up your hash browns, they cook up in about 15 minutes, so you can even make these during the week as a quick, hearty breakfast.  Just scramble or fry up some eggs to go with and breakfast is served!

Crispy potato goodness time!

You can store your shredded potatoes in the fridge in a covered container for about 1 week.  If you need to store them for longer you can freeze them.  Just sprinkle some shreds all over a sheet pan in an even layer, then place it in your freezer.  Once the shreds are frozen, transfer them to a zip top bag and keep in the freezer for 3-6 months.  You can cook frozen shredded potatoes exactly the same as fresh.  It might take a few extra minutes, but they turn out perfectly.

I hope this inspires you to try making your own hash browns for your family, I promise you you will never go back to store bought again!