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Hash Browns: The Holy Grail of Breakfast

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For perfect, light, crispy, delicious hash browns, every time, use this method. I'll also show some ways not to make hash browns, as well as an experiment showing what happens when you skip the crucial step.

Hash browns (along with biscuits, which I haven't yet mastered [edit: now I have! see here]), are the holy grail of breakfast. Done right, they are crispy, light, and delicious, worthy of every praise and love-song ever written in honor of food. Done wrong, they are mushy, soaked in oil, half-burned and mangled. They are, to borrow from the Grinch, "an appalling dump heap, overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots".

But once you figure them out, they're surprisingly easy. Get excited.

What you need:

  • Potatoes
  • A grater
  • A strainer
  • Oil or butter
  • A frying pan & spatula
 
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Step 1: Grate your Potatoes

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OK, you knew this. Peel or wash first.

Step 2: Rinse Your Potato Shreds

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Pour your shreds into a strainer and rinse them out. You can also put them in a bowl, fill it with water and potato shreds, then strain and repeat until the water runs clean.

This is where the magic happens. When you do this, you will see your shreds turn from a gray, mushy mass into crisp, white shreds of delicious potato goodness. According to the (always reliable) internet, you are removing "the starches" in this step. I'm not sure why this makes a difference, but it sure does. All the difference.

Step 3: Squeeze the Water Out

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No need to go crazy here. Just grab the potatoes in your hands and squeeze some water out of them so they aren't sopping wet. 

Some people will use a towel and twist it. Others get "potato-ricers" (giant garlic press type contraptions that will squeeze every last ounce of moisture from potato shreds). This is only necessary if you haven't already rinsed the potatoes. If you have rinsed them, then squeezing really isn't all that important (see the experiment at the end of this instructable).
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dropkick1 year ago

I'm a professional cook. Nothing the matter with the way that your doing this, but I have a suggestion that works if you have the time to plan ahead. I think my way is somewhat easier and you end up with much faster browning hashbrowns.

Clean and boil some whole potatoes.

Cook the potatoes untill a fork can penetrate them but they're still firm (normal sized potatoes only take 15 to 20 minutes at a rolling boil).

Quench the potatoes (run some cold water over them to stop or limit any residual the cooking process - you don't need the potatoes to be completely cold - just enough so you can handle them)

Put the potatoes uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. - This is a very important step as the potatoes firm up in the refrigerator. If you use them while they're still warm you'll likely end up with fried mashed potatoes.

Heat oil or butter up in a frying pan and grate the unpeeled potato directly into the pan. - It will grate easily and most of the skin (if it's a brown potato) will sluff off to the side instead of grating. it's easy to discard the skin or you can fry and eat it also - I like it.

The potatoes will brown very quickly and you'll have no problem with blackening.

I boil potatoes and put them in my home refrigerator about once a week. That way I have them ready for hashbrowns, scalloped, twice-baked, or any other potato dishes that meet my fancy.

solobo (author)  dropkick1 year ago

Nice, thanks for posting that. I'd heard something about pre-boiling, but it always sounded like too much work. But I can see how if you have a bunch of them pre-boiled, it's not so bad. I'll have to give it a try and see how it compares. Thanks!

lamontej1 solobo9 months ago

Do people in Chicago put sour cream on hash browns as we did when I lived in MN. Makes sense if you like t on baked potatoes. Try it if you haven't.

solobo (author)  lamontej19 months ago

I don't know about in Chicago, but here in San Francisco I haven't ever seen that. It sounds delicious though! I'll have to try it.

This is how I make Latkes! Great tip.

Excellent!

Suggestion; get a salad spinner - I find them for about $2 at the DOLLAR TREE store. They have a big basket that can be used for rinsing, draining and, of course SPINNING the shreds to get them as dry as possible without crushing them into pulp. I often put a bit of salt and /or onion powder and/or garlic power in the final rinse, let the shreds sit for 10 or 15 minutes to absorb the extra flavor, then drain and SPIN.

Hmmm... Think I'll go make a batch!

Good job!

-cgp

Wait, $2 at Dollar Tree?
Also, thanks for the reminder. I forgot Dollar Tree has kitchenware items.

the DOLLAR TREE in my area (SW Ohio) has items marked for even $, sometimes as much as 20 or 30 of them... ;-)

Weird! I live in NE Ohio, and everything is $1. That's their main advertisement to get people to come in. :D

great idea!

solobo (author)  guitarpicker71 year ago

Ooh, that sounds like an excellent idea.

HeatherJ1115 days ago

Excellent Breakfast Ever

galiliosharma5 months ago

Mind Blowing

olivia116 months ago

Excellent!

Excellent!

BrianDean7 months ago

great idea

davis317 months ago

useful info

rose1248 months ago

great

abbeyheinz8 months ago

Im so happy I reveiewed these comments,Nice ,Just adds a little more security to cooking ,and turning out easy thanks to all of you !

jaretth10 months ago

nice

jaretth10 months ago

nice

jaretth10 months ago

nice

jaretth10 months ago

nice

excellent Solobo....its very delicious... i made it once..FOVORITED it

solobo (author)  BARNABASSABA1 year ago
awesome.
dummy19771 year ago

Thank you...this is one thing I always butcher. Grayish mess...yep.

solobo (author)  dummy19771 year ago
You're welcome!
acabrera71 year ago
SMALL BACON STRIPS OR CUBES + HASH BROWN = HEAVEN
FAVOURITE VEGGIES - CARROT, SPRING ONION, ONION
USE VEGGIES WITH HASH BROWN > PERFECT BREKKIE MEAL
solobo (author)  acabrera71 year ago

Mm, sounds good.

Just a heads up, i tried that and it went EVERYWHERE. It kept on destroying the pattie shape everytime it popped.

So I reccommend ham. If it doesnt do that yet.

solobo (author)  acabrera71 year ago

Oh, I guess that makes sense. Thanks for the heads up. Maybe pre-cooked bacon?

im not so sure. I normally cook mah bacon on the frypan with no oil until signs of burning shows. Note at this stage it is still floppy.

And im REALLy not sure about using aven cooked bacon. I've never done it, but im sure you cook until its coioked all over.

This might leave ur hash with burned bacon maybe?

One ham i DO recommen is Virginia Ham. It normally comes in thick slices or a big chunk. you can cut that into strips and use it. they're quite versatile so unless the hash browns take a long time to cook, it should be fine.

solobo (author)  acabrera71 year ago

Yeah, might run into problems with overcooking it. ham's good too.

Emma B1 year ago

I've been making what I call potato pancakes for many, many years. My mother used to make them often when I was a child and while I never got an actual recipe from her, I started making them when my kids were small using only my vague recollection of the ingredients. While they often varied from soggy to fairly crisp, I never really knew why. Now I do! Thank you so much! BTW, my mum (mom) was originally from Germany and made her kartoffelpfannkuchen with finely chopped onions, eggs and flour (the latter to soak up the potato liquid?) and I've been doing that ever since, too. I'm off to make a batch according to your advice, without the flour but with the onions and eggs.
Ps, any hints as to what type of grater is the best and how to avoid grating the skin off your knuckles? Thanks!

solobo (author)  Emma B1 year ago

Sweet, let me know how they turn out! I just used one of the hand graters (like a little tower with grated surfaces on each side). I kindof turn the potato sideways and use my fingertips at the end... but there's probably a better way.

Emma B solobo1 year ago

Solobo, I raced out and bought one of those kinds you mention and it works grate! (pun intended) and I didn't add any grated skin to the mix either!
As for how they turned out, well, see picture below. The plate on the left contains 3 small pancakes and as you can see, they just fell apart and look very unappetising (I'm glad I didn't make them for company!) I had one batch left and decided to sprinkle some flour on it and mixed it in. The result is on the right... pretty good don't you think? How do you or others manage to keep them from falling apart without flour? As for taste, very nice and there was no discernible difference between the ones with or without flour. So, thanks to this instructable, no more soggy hash browns, but I will continue to use a bit of flour.

Pictureofsilver, my new grater cost me $2 from the you know what shop lol!

PS, That soaking potatoes removes the starch is correct, unfortunately, it also removes some of the vitamins. I guess so long as we don't overdo the hash browns, it's worth the small sacrifice.

potato pancake.jpg
solobo (author)  Emma B1 year ago

Very cool! Thanks for posting the pictures. Yeah, I've just had to flip really carefully in the past. I may try the flour trick; you say it helps hold them together? Do you just sprinkle some in while they're frying?

Emma B solobo1 year ago

I add the flour after soaking/rinsing/drying, adding eggs and onions. Then I sprinkle a small handful of plain flour on and mix it through before frying.

It definitely holds them together and hardly changes the flavour at all. You could try potato flour I guess. What it does is replace the starch (that was removed with the soaking) without the liquid.

  • peel
  • grate
  • rinse and squeeze until little water drips
  • coat in potato/rice flour (anything that feels starchy)
  • The flour should make a *slight* batter consistency.
  • Cook as normal

The batter consistency is what hold everything together. And i personally like the extra starch because it give a slight crumbly white stuff sticking to the outside of the hash browns. I think they are clumped flour, otherwise, it makes a good hash brown!

By the way, this recipe was actually based on my mum's recipe. She like to make a batter before hand out of plain flour and water. and Emma B, My mum still makes them. my favourite combo is ham and spring onion.

I forgot to add, the stickiness of the batter like consistency can easily hold other ingredients too. just add the mixture into a bowl and add ingredients if your choice. However, don't overload or make it chunky!

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