how to make awesome hash browns
And now for something completely different!
I thought I would post this as a useful public service. So often I find - especially in restaurants - hash browns that are soggy, greasy, overcooked or undercooked, and generally lacking in the delectable crisp-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside yumminess that one expects from hash browns. Here, then, is the definitive recipe for how to make hash browns good, not greasy.
First, you need some grease. Ha! No, really. You need fat to make good hash browns. About a tablespoon per small-medium potato. And, of course, you need potatoes. A medium-starch potato like a Yukon Gold works best.
So you have your fat (and please, for the love of your insides, use real fat, not some crappy canola oil or worse, "vegetable oil". It's not made from vegetables, it's made from industrial corn and soy, and it has no flavour at all - use leftover bacon grease, duck fat, or lard), and you have your potatoes. Now, before your potatoes meet your fat, you want them to be softened up and ready to love the fat. Hard potatoes take a long time to accept their fatty fate, and you don't want to wait up to an hour for your hash browns. So dice your potatoes, put them in your vegetable steamer, and steam them for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how big you diced them. Five minutes if you diced them super-small. You want a knife to go in them, but with a bit of resistance.
While your potato chunks are steaming, heat up your fat in a non-stick pan on medium heat. A well-seasoned cast iron pan will also work well. As soon as your potatoes are steamed enough, shake the steamer over the sink to dry them a bit and then dump them in the frying pan in an even layer. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over (sprinkle more if you didn't use bacon fat). Sizzling should ensue. If they cover the bottom of the pan and form more than one layer, you've used too small a pan and your hash browns will be sub-optimal, but probably still edible. Live and learn.
Don't over-stir them, particularly right out of the steamer. Let them get nice and golden on one side before you start moving them around. It'll take about 20 minutes to cook them properly. Taste them when they're close to done and add more salt if necessary. Then serve hot and enjoy.
(Note that I am not claiming that these are healthy or something you ought to eat every day. But if you're going to eat them, they ought to be good.)