Time saver: fried potato with salt and pepper, oh yeah…
I’m not really sure if it’s the right time to post this recipe. I think the recipe’s good, but my technique is not quite there yet. I made these the other night, but forgot I’d used my oil and ended up having to cook them in peanut oil. (I probably wouldn’t have normally picked that in particular.) As a result I didn’t quite get the golden-brown finish I would have liked. They’re still good and crispy though. Anyway, I’ll put the recipe out there and reserve the right to tweak it and upload photos later on. (UPDATE: photo uploaded from subsequent attempt.)
There’s two basic types of hash brown – the pure hash brown and the embellished one. The first is simply grated potato, seasoned with salt and pepper, fried in a little oil. The second might contain eggs (which help hold everything together), onions, garlic, bacon etc. This post is all about the pure version.
The key thing for a good crispy hash brown is to get as much moisture out of the grated potatoes as possible. There are a few different ways to achieve this, how you do it will really come down to personal preference and what you’ve got available. Just as indication, the potatoes I used went from weighing 600g immediately after grating, to weighing about 400g with the moisture extracted. (And it’s possible I could have got more out.)
Techniques for extracting moisture:
- Put grated potato in a colander, press firmly to squeeze out moisture. Leave for 20 minutes or so, then squeeze again. A variation on this is to also sprinkle a little salt in after the first squeeze to help draw out more moisture.
- As per the colander, but use a metal sieve (just be careful not to break it – you really do have to push quite hard to get that moisture out).
- If you don’t have a sieve or a colander, just leave the grated potato in a large bowl. Squeeze the potato to one side and pour out the liquid. Again, leave for 20 minutes, then repeat. (You’ll be surprised how much more liquid accumulates after the wait.)
- You can use a potato ricer to squeeze out the moisture directly. If you haven’t seen one it’s basically like a large garlic press, usually used for mashing potato. In this case you press the grated potato in the ricer and squeeze the liquid out. (The idea is not to push the potato through the ricer – just to get rid of the moisture.)
- You can try using paper towels to blot off the moisture, or wrap around some of the grated potato and squeeze it out. Note that you’ll probably have to use a lot of paper towels to do this properly.
- If you have an extremely clean tea towel handy you can pile the grated potato into the middle, fold the towel around it lengthwise, then twist it thoroughly, wringing the moisture out of the potato.
- Or let your imagination take flight (and let me know in the comments what you do!).
Crispy hash browns – makes eight 50g hash browns
- 600g potato (this is about 4 medium sized potatoes), starchy varieties work best (but use what you have)
- freshly ground black pepper
- oil/butter (or a combination) for frying
- Clean and dry the potatoes. You can peel them, but I leave the skins on (since that’s where the nutrients are). Remove any obvious blemishes, eyes, shoots etc.
- Grate the potatoes into a large bowl. Pick one of the moisture extraction techniques listed above and get as much moisture out of the grated potato as possible.
- Season the potatoes with freshly ground black pepper, and stir it through.
- Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a frying pan on a medium-high heat. It needs to be quite hot before you add the potato…
- Scoop the grated potato into a ¼ cup measure and press it in firmly, then tip into the frying pan. (You can just spoon the potato into the pan, but using the ¼ cup measure ensures even sized hash browns and helps keep the potato together. For a bigger hash brown use a bigger measure.) Press the hash brown down with the back of a spoon, spreading the potato out and getting to about ½ – 1 cm thick. Try and keep the edges together (the grated potato tends to stray outwards). After pressing it flat, sprinkle/grind a little salt over it. You’ll probably fit about 3 or 4 hash browns in the pan at a time (unless it’s a big pan).
- Fry the hash brown for around 3-4 minutes, then flip and fry for around 3-4 minutes on the other side. If the oil has all been absorbed you can add a little more just prior to flipping. The exact cooking time will obviously depend on your element, frying pan, potato, oil etc. Ideally the hashbrowns should be golden-brown (without going actual brown), and need to be cooked all the way through.
- Serve and eat while hot.
I tried this tonight and enjoyed them but I had a bit of trouble getting the oil right. The hash browns tended to act like little sponges – perhaps it wasn’t hot enough.