[Previous Thread] [Return to BigSpud: The Potato Recipe Collection Menu][Next Thread]

Subject: hash brown (happy) accident
Newsgroups: rec.food.cooking

============================

From: Rona Yuthasastrakosol 
Date: Sat, 8 Nov 2003 15:50:08 -0600
--------
I've had a craving for hash browns.  Yesterday I did a google groups search
and came upon a few posts for "perfect hash browns."  I was looking for
something like the hash browns at Al's in Minneapolis, but not so mushy on
the inside.  I figure they pre-cook their potatoes, and that's why they are
so mushy.  I decided no pre-cooking was allowed.  Here's what I ended up
doing:

Grated a russet potato, soaked it in water, then dried with a paper towel.
Melted some of the fat left over from our Thanksgiving roast chicken (we had
rubbed the chicken with butter, so the leftover fat consisted of chicken fat
and butter).  Added a bit of oil.  Heated on med-high and when hot, dumped
in half the grated potatoes, sprinkled with salt and pepper, then covered
with the remaining potatoes.  Left it alone for a few minutes, then turned
it over to brown the other side.  Problem 1:  big round thing wouldn't turn
over in its entirety so I had to stir it, instead so it wasn't round
anymore.  Left it for a few more minutes.  Then drained on a paper towel,
sprinkled with a bit more salt, and ate with a fried (literally--used the
same pan and oil as for the hash browns) egg.  Problem 2:  Ended up with
crispy shreds of potato, not crispy exterior and tender interior.

Now, this wasn't such a bad thing.  I like crispy bits of potato.  You know
those tiny little bits of potato you'll sometimes get in your fries?  Well,
I think those are the best part of fries.  I thought my crispy bits of
potato were delicious and I was quite pleased with them.  I'm even going to
make them again one day.  However, they were obviously not hash browns.

Questions:  Do you soak your potatoes when you make hash browns?  Soaking
helps get rid of some of the starch--right?  But then how do the potatoes
stick together to make the tender interior?  And what temperature do you
use?  High?  Medium?  Low?  Should I use high to get the crispy outside,
then low to cook the inside, or low then high?  Or keep the heat constant?
I don't want to make latke, I want to make hash browns, so I think I don't
want egg or flour or matzo in my hash browns (but feel free to correct me if
I'm wrong).  Any other suggestions?

============================

From: Jill McQuown 
Date: Sat, 8 Nov 2003 16:59:11 -0600
--------
Sounds like you tried to make one big potato pancake.  I don't know what Al
does, but hash browns, whether made from grated potatoes or cubed potatoes,
don't necessarily cling together when turned.  So it sounds like a potato
pancakes.  And no, I don't soak my potatoes unless I need to keep them from
browning after being sliced or grated; then they go in a wash of cold water
with lemon juice to prevent discolouration.

It sounds like you wanted a fried potato pancake; albeit, a large single one
:)  It appears you're looking for German potato pancakes (as opposed to the
Scottish or Irish ones made from mashed potatoes).  Here's a recipe I love:

2 eggs
2 Tbs. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 medium potatoes, peeled and shredded
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 c. hot vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and
pepper. Stir in potatoes, onion and garlic.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  In batches, drop heaping
tablespoonfuls of the potato mixture into the skillet. Press to flatten.
Cook about 3 minutes on each side, until the outside is browned and crisp.
Drain on paper towels.

The Scottish/Irish version of potato pancakes, which my mom made a lot and I
still do! calls for leftover cold mashed potatoes, very thick, with an egg
mixed in, onion and possibly garlic, patted into 'cakes' with floured hands
and  lightly dusted with flour.  Fried the same way.

Since I had a German grandmother and a Scottish grandmother, I waffle
between craving one or the other.

I had some very good hash browns at lunch the other day made from large
chunked potatoes fried with bits of onion.  Different from what you
describe, but with great dark crunchy "bits" :)

============================

From: Hahabogus 
Date: Sun, 09 Nov 2003 01:57:53 GMT
--------
Rona Yuthasastrakosol wrote:
> Any other suggestions?

I watched a J. Pepin cooking show on PBS. What he did was grate and soak 
the potatoes in salted water. Using your hand squeeze out the water in a 
handfull of the grated potato. Shape the handfull into a thin patty. then 
fry. Small enough to hold their shape and nice with a fried egg. 

I like to make shoe string french fries...they are very crispy. I prefer 
red or waxy potatoes though...

============================

From: Carnivore269[at]hotmail.com (Carnivore269)
Date: 8 Nov 2003 23:53:14 -0800
--------
Hahabogus wrote:
> I like to make shoe string french fries...they are very crispy. I prefer 
> red or waxy potatoes though...

Yukon golds...
I've not eaten a russett 'tater in years. :-)

============================

From: jbekart[at]post.com
Date: Sun, 09 Nov 2003 13:47:58 +0000
--------
Hahabogus wrote:
>I watched a J. Pepin cooking show on PBS. What he did was grate and soak 
>the potatoes in salted water. Using your hand squeeze out the water in a 
>handfull of the grated potato. Shape the handfull into a thin patty. then 
>fry. Small enough to hold their shape and nice with a fried egg. 
>
>I like to make shoe string french fries...they are very crispy. I prefer 
>red or waxy potatoes though...

eh?

============================

From: Rona Yuthasastrakosol 
Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2003 16:48:39 -0600
--------
Hahabogus wrote:
> I watched a J. Pepin cooking show on PBS. What he did was grate and soak
> the potatoes in salted water. Using your hand squeeze out the water in a
> handfull of the grated potato. Shape the handfull into a thin patty. then
> fry. Small enough to hold their shape and nice with a fried egg.

That's pretty much what I did--grate and soak--but I couldn't get them to
stick together.  I'll try using smaller patties next time.  I was just being
greedy and I tried to make one big patty like they did at Al's.

> I like to make shoe string french fries...they are very crispy. I prefer
> red or waxy potatoes though...

I like almost any sized french fry as long as it's cooked properly.  Bigger
ones definitely need to be double fried, but shoestring ones are OK with
just one frying.  Crispy is always good :-).

============================

From: Bob Pastorio 
Date: Sun, 09 Nov 2003 03:48:09 -0500
--------
Rona Yuthasastrakosol wrote:
> I've had a craving for hash browns.  Yesterday I did a google groups search
> and came upon a few posts for "perfect hash browns."  I was looking for
> something like the hash browns at Al's in Minneapolis, but not so mushy on
> the inside.  I figure they pre-cook their potatoes, and that's why they are
> so mushy.  I decided no pre-cooking was allowed.  Here's what I ended up
> doing:

Restaurant trick for crisp outside, creamy interior: Grate the 
potatoes, season them (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder). 
Melt too much butter in a non-stick skillet (like 1/3 of a stick) over 
med-high heat and press the spuds into the skillet. Let them cook for 
a while to begin browning, like 8 or 10 minutes or more. Don't stir or 
otherwise disturb them. Combine 3 tablespoons water with two 
tablespoons potato or corn starch and pour evenly over the potato 
letting it soak through. You'll hear sizzling. Let it cook for maybe 5 
minutes more. You'll want to turn the cake over and the best way to do 
that for me has been the old plate on the skillet and invert it trick. 
Slide it back into the skillet raw side down and let it brown. Crusty 
exterior, smooth and moist interior.

Doing it this way eliminates all those secondary questions about 
soaking or squeezing or whatever. It works no matter how you handle 
the potatoes. Starch, as you surmised, is what will hold them 
together. No eggs, flour or matzo.

If you don't want to use the added starch, choose a very hard potato. 
Better inherent starch content of its own.

============================

From: Nancy Young 
Date: Sun, 09 Nov 2003 12:06:06 -0500
--------
Bob Pastorio wrote:
> Restaurant trick for crisp outside, creamy interior: Grate the
> potatoes, season them (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder).
> Melt too much butter in a non-stick skillet (like 1/3 of a stick) over
> med-high heat and press the spuds into the skillet. Let them cook for
> a while to begin browning, like 8 or 10 minutes or more. Don't stir or
> otherwise disturb them. Combine 3 tablespoons water with two
> tablespoons potato or corn starch and pour evenly over the potato
> letting it soak through. You'll hear sizzling. Let it cook for maybe 5
> minutes more. You'll want to turn the cake over and the best way to do
> that for me has been the old plate on the skillet and invert it trick.
> Slide it back into the skillet raw side down and let it brown. Crusty
> exterior, smooth and moist interior.

Bob, it cracked me up that I read your post while at the same time
watching Wolfgang Puck making almost *exactly* what you describe.
Picture me looking from the computer to the tv and back and going,
yeah!  (laugh)

============================

From: Bob Pastorio 
Date: Sun, 09 Nov 2003 13:19:36 -0500
--------
Nancy Young wrote:
> Bob, it cracked me up that I read your post while at the same time
> watching Wolfgang Puck making almost *exactly* what you describe.
> Picture me looking from the computer to the tv and back and going,
> yeah!  (laugh)

That's funny.

I did a variant on the idea that I liked. Half potatoes and half 
turnip, both grated and tossed together. Browned and starched. Had a 
nice tang to it. No reason why other veggies or tasty additions 
couldn't be incorporated.

============================

From: Rona Yuthasastrakosol 
Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2003 17:03:07 -0600
--------
Bob Pastorio wrote:
>Restaurant trick for crisp outside, creamy interior: Grate the
>potatoes, season them (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder).
>Melt too much butter in a non-stick skillet (like 1/3 of a stick) over
>med-high heat and press the spuds into the skillet. Let them cook for
>a while to begin browning, like 8 or 10 minutes or more. Don't stir or
>otherwise disturb them. Combine 3 tablespoons water with two
>tablespoons potato or corn starch and pour evenly over the potato
>letting it soak through. You'll hear sizzling. Let it cook for maybe 5
>minutes more. You'll want to turn the cake over and the best way to do
>that for me has been the old plate on the skillet and invert it trick.
>Slide it back into the skillet raw side down and let it brown. Crusty
>exterior, smooth and moist interior.

(piggy-backing 'cause my server seems to be dropping posts again.)

So you don't soak the potatoes after grating them?  Or rinse them?  For some
reason, I thought potatoes for hash browns should be rinsed, though potatoes
for latkes shouldn't.  Don't ask me where I got that idea--probably from rfc
somewhere...

I think I used about 1/3-1/2cup fat in total for my one grated potato.
Maybe I had too much fat.  It was almost like deep frying because the fat
nearly covered the potatoes (and did in some areas).  I was using a fairly
small non-stick pan--maybe 6" in diameter.

The cornstarch/potato starch idea sounds interesting, but I was trying to
avoid adding extra starch.  It's a low-carb thing ;-).  Seriously, though,
is it possible to get a crispy outside tender inside without the extra
starch?  The good hash browns I've had at restaurants just seem to be
potatoes with no additives except salt and pepper.  Is it that home stoves
(we have electric coil) just make it harder to do?

I need some more potatoes so I can practice more.  I'll try the
cornstarch/potato starch thing next.  I might do sweet potatoes, too.
Thanks!

============================

From: penmart01[at]aol.como (Sheldon)
Date: 09 Nov 2003 23:10:41 GMT
--------
Rona Yuthasastrakosol writes:
>So you don't soak the potatoes after grating them?  Or rinse them?  For some
>reason, I thought potatoes for hash browns should be rinsed, though potatoes
>for latkes shouldn't.  Don't ask me where I got that idea--probably from rfc
>somewhere...

Not to worry... Pisstario (dumb WOP bastard of a guinea whore) can't cook a
lick... hash browns are shredded, NOT grated.

============================

From: Bob Pastorio 
Date: Sun, 09 Nov 2003 19:18:18 -0500
--------
Rona Yuthasastrakosol wrote:

> I think I used about 1/3-1/2cup fat in total for my one grated potato.
> Maybe I had too much fat.  It was almost like deep frying because the fat
> nearly covered the potatoes (and did in some areas).  I was using a fairly
> small non-stick pan--maybe 6" in diameter.

The problem with deep oil is that it gets inside the pile of grated 
potato and cooks each piece separately. With the double condition of 
no surface starch for binding and oil inside the batch of spuds, 
there's no reason for them to stick together.

Thoughts:
1) Less oil. Just a film should be enough.
2) Don't rinse.
3) Press the potatoes down into the skillet.
4) Add a 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum to the potatoes and toss to mix 
about 1/2 hour before cooking to let the gum hydrate.
5) After about 5 minutes of cooking, pour a few tablespoons water 
evenly over the potatoes.
5) Restaurants have big flattop griddles that can stay at a constant 
350F or so. They can cook more evenly because of the thickness of the 
metal. It stays hot. Yours will probably do better on a cast iron, 
low-side, well seasoned griddle.

> The cornstarch/potato starch idea sounds interesting, but I was trying to
> avoid adding extra starch.  It's a low-carb thing ;-).  Seriously, though,
> is it possible to get a crispy outside tender inside without the extra
> starch?  The good hash browns I've had at restaurants just seem to be
> potatoes with no additives except salt and pepper.  Is it that home stoves
> (we have electric coil) just make it harder to do?

They'll probably use russets. Medium to medium-high heat.


[Previous Thread] [Return to BigSpud: The Potato Recipe Collection Menu][Next Thread]