I’m willing to guess most of us have memories of greasy diner breakfasts, whether it was with family on a road trip or at the local spot on a particularly groggy morning after a night of imbibing. I LOVE these memories, but even as young boy I noticed a varying degree of consistency when it came to one of my favorite breakfast items: hash browns. At best, they were somewhat crispy, at worst, they were a bland and starchy mess that no amount of ketchup could improve.
Now I’m not talking about just any hash browns, I am referencing a very certain type. You know the ones, those classic shredded potato diner browns. Ideally they should be super crisp, soft, fluffy, and NOT greasy. Too often more than one of these is the case.
My quest for hash brown perfection took me outside of the diner, in fact outside of North America, to Switzerland where they have the Potato Rӧsti. Made in a pan and flipped to get both sides crisp, it is the ultimate combo of fluffy and crispy. Inspired by the Swiss rӧsti and fueled by memories, I have created this super easy hash brown recipe. I like to do mine in a pan and flip to get both sides crisp. However this recipe will work great on a griddle as well, just follow my 3 PRO tips:
- Salt your potatoes early and drain well.
- Increase the pH of the potatoes with a pinch of baking soda to encourage browning.
- Do NOT touch the potatoes until they are ready to flip.
2 large russet potatoes
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp butter – divided
¼ tsp baking soda
Peel the potatoes and shred with a box grater or in a food processor. If you want to get fancy, you can julienne the potatoes. Put the shredded potatoes into a large bowl and add the salt. Mix well and let sit for 20 minutes. Put the salted potatoes into a colander lined with a tea towel. Pull the edges of the tea towel over top of the potatoes and gather the excess towel in your hand. Twist the towel together and squeeze as much water as you can from the potatoes.
Note: Water is the enemy; we want to fry the potatoes, not steam them.
Heat your pan to medium. Drain any water from the bowel and transfer the potatoes back into it. Add the baking soda to the potatoes and mix. Put the oil into the pan and add the potatoes. Very gently, spread the potatoes evenly around the pan, pushing down to create an even layer. STOP. Seriously, that’s it, walk away. At around the 5 minute mark, take one tablespoon of the butter and melt it around the edge of the pan. When the potatoes are golden brown and smell amazing, flip and walk away. After 5 minutes, repeat with the second tablespoon of butter and cook until golden. Cut in half and serve it with whatever breakfast goodness you want. Enjoy!
What is your favorite way to eat potatoes at breakfast? Let me know in the comments below!
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