Potatoes for breakfast? It’s understandable if you hadn’t realized that fast-food hash browns were supposed to be made of potatoes. By the time they get to the customer, the potatoes have been mangled beyond recognition. Notice I don’t say they don’t taste good. But you can make something just as crispy and delicious at home in a few minutes.
Notice that I don’t say, either, that homemade hash browns are very good for you — but they’re a lot closer to the natural state of the ingredients. You won’t be able to shape them into neat little patties like the food industry, but food with an irregular shape has its own magic.
Hash browns are potatoes chopped finely (that’s the hash part, from “hacher”, to chop — yes, I majored in French) and then, well, browned. But first, to keep the process fast and make sure the potatoes are digestible, they should be precooked. Ready?
- 1 potato, any size
- 1 onion, optional
- fat for cooking (a mixture of oil and butter, or oil and bacon fat, works well)
- salt to taste
- If you’re using the onion, which will slow this down by a few minutes, heat the fat, chop the onion, and cook it over medium heat till it starts to brown.
- Meanwhile, scrub the potato, prick a few holes in it for the steam to escape so it won’t explode, and microwave on high for a little less time than you’d take to bake it in the microwave.
- Then cut it in half lengthwise and let it cool slightly.
- If you’re not using an onion, start heating the fat, over medium high, now.
- Using a potholder or oven mitt, grate the cut sides of the potato, one by one, till you’re almost at the skin. I suppose you could just grate the whole thing, including the skin, but I don’t.
- Carefully scrape the grated potato into the hot fat, which will already have the onion in it if you’ve used it. Use a spatula, preferably metal for the scraping power, to press it down.
- After a couple of minutes, use it to lift up a little of the potato to see if it’s browned to your taste. If it’s not, wait a little longer. If/when it is, pick up as much as you can with the spatula and turn it over.
- Do this till you’ve turned over as much as you can. Getting the really browned part from the bottom of the pan will probably take some scraping.
- When the second side is browned, sprinkle on some salt and serve.
- These are good with sour cream and/or grated cheese — you’ve already got the grater out anyway, so enjoy.