The following post was contributed by one of our regular readers who had some great tips to share. Please enjoy!
Contributed by Tina (a caterer) from Washington:
I was at sitting at lunch the other day, and someone wanted to ask me a question since I was the resident chef. They told me not to laugh. How could someone have a problem with a recipe with basically one ingredient? Potatoes. I did not laugh. I knew exactly what my friend was talking about. As a kid, my father would always make Sunday morning brunch. It could be pancakes. It could be French toast. It could be eggs and homemade hash browns. While my dad is not a chef, he is a good cook, and I always wondered why his hash browns never tasted as good as the local diner. They were crispy on the outside, but gummy and pasty on the inside. I like my hash browns shredded, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, with no paste. If I am ordering at a Waffle House, I want mine “scattered”.
The problem with homemade hash browns is most folks don’t realize that it takes a lot of work. The critical factor is moisture. You need to remove as much moisture from the potatoes as you can before you cook them. If you want to cook like the pros, you have 2 options:
Option A: You can par cook the potatoes (bake, boil, microwave) in large chunks, and pray you don’t overcook them (since shredding them will be impossible at that point in time).
Option B: You can rinse the raw shredded potatoes until they run clear. Place rinsed shredded potatoes in a towel, and use a tourniquet to remove as much of the excess water as you can.
On a weekend morning, both options involve way too much work for me, especially when I know that there’s actually a third option — option C — that will yield near perfect results every time. What is option C? Head to the local grocery store and pick up a bag of frozen shredded hash browns (I am not talking about the preformed patties like you can find at the golden arches). Follow the directions on the package, with the exception of using double the amount of oil (also true if making them from scratch). You don’t want the potatoes swimming, but you need the extra fat to make them really crispy. If you want to give the hash browns better flavor, use half oil and half butter. While using all butter would give you even better flavor, the milk solids can burn. Mixing oil in with the butter will raise the burning point, while providing you with improved flavor.