Mrs. L.A. is a pyromaniac. Well, OK. She likes having a fire in the fire pit. The cord of wood doesn’t arrive until today, so we went down to the corner market so she could get a couple of bundles of firewood. I said, ‘If you get a tube of biscuits, I can make biscuits and gravy tomorrow.’ (I knew I wouldn’t feel like making them from scratch today.) Well, we got the Pillsbury biscuits and some eggs – but not the firewood because they were out. We headed toward the gas station, which seldom runs out of wood. That’s when she asked me to make hashbrowns today. ‘It’s Saturday,’ she said. I don’t keep track, but I think we probably have hashbrowns Saturday more often than Sunday.
Coincidentally, I saw this link just now. The Pioneer Woman’s method is pretty much the way I make them. I rinse and squeeze the potatoes in a colander before putting them into a bowl of cold water, and I don’t squeeze in a towel after soaking; squeezing them with a paper towel when they’re in the colander works well enough.
Anyway, it’s Saturday. The potatoes are shredded, rinsed and squeezed, and sitting in a bowl of cold water until I get around to making breakfast – which might be closer to lunch time. Two nice mounds of crispy-on-the-outside/fluffy-on-the-inside hashbrowns, two each over-easy eggs cooked in a copious amount of butter, and four each rashers of bacon.
Don’t they soak up some water that way? I don’t soak mine, just peel, shred and squeeze just prior to dropping them in the hot fat (bacon fat, vegetable oil, or duck fat or a mixture of olive oil and unsalted butter). Sometimes add onions. Top with over-easy eggs, salt and pepper, maybe some hot sauce. Now I know what Sunday’s breakfast is going to be.
Nope. And it gets rid of the excess starch, which would make them gooey. After soaking, just put them in a colander and drain them, then squeeze the water out with paper towels or a kitchen towel. They’ll be nice and dry.
One thing I’d like to learn how to do is freeze shredded potatoes. I went through the procedure once, and put the potatoes into a gallon zip-top bag. I squeezed the air out of the bag and put it in the freezer. The potatoes turned grey anyway.
See, when I make hashbrowns I have to peel the potatoes, run them through the food processor’s grater, and then – the part I hate – wash the food processor. Plus the rinsing and soaking and drying. It would be much more convenient to grate enough potatoes for one or two or three additional breakfasts and do the prep so I only had to do it once. (I’m not going to get a vacuum seal machine just for potatoes. )
I usually use Yukons or russets and haven’t had a goo problem. The oil has to be very hot, of course.
I was going to suggest a vacuum sealer, but you seem to not want that. They do come in handy for a lot of things, however. I used to freeze five pounds of bacon at a time, and still freeze seafood or chicken when it comes on sale. I bought it when I had access to 20-30 fresh caught free sockeyes and halibut filets in Alaska, so it was well worth it. The machines are not expensive, so you may want to revisit the notion for all your potato-y needs.
ETA: one problem with vacuum sealing potatoes would be that the vacuum machine will suck out additional moisture from the potatoes, making a seal nearly impossible and mushing the spuds in the process. You’d probably have to first freeze them on a baking sheet, maybe spritzing them with water first, then sealing.
Interesting. I have made hash browns from scratch a few times and have not been consistent in them. Sometimes they are pretty good, sometimes not.
Potatoes are cheap, frozen hash browns are getting up there, to my way of thinking. My beloved Ore-Ida proclaims right in the package “Now Even Crispier!” or somesuch, as if we’ve been shortchanged up until now.
If anything, it seems like they have switched to a lower quality spud, which would not surprise me.
I’ve tried several different techniques, shredding raw Bakers, or large Russets, shredding and rinsing, shredding rinsing and freezing, parboiling briefly and freezing whole potatoes and then shredding, etc.
Well we’ll try them again. Read through the pioneer lady’s directions. There is a certain PITA aspect to DIY. Hash browns cooked in butter, as God intended, I like to add a small amount of onion both before and after cooking. Season with sea salt and white pepper before cooking, and finish off with cheese, even (gasp!) Velveeta. For true arteriosclerotic delight, top with fluffy sausage gravy and runny eggs, biscuits, etc.
It’s no trouble peeling the potatoes and grating them. The PITA is washing the food processor. That’s really not so bad, since raw potato cleans up much more easily than, say, cheddar cheese. But I’m a little OCD about my dishes and cookware, so I give them the full treatment. But as I said, it’s not so bad. Thinking about it now, I think the part I hate is having those bulky food processor parts in the drying rack. Plastic takes too long to dry.
In reality, the food processor just needs a rinse. ‘Potato water’ and the little bits of potato wash right out. I just have this compulsion to make my dishes ‘sterile’. (It bugs the crap out of the spousal unit. But I feel I clean dishes better than the dishwasher.) I like to put dishes away, too. The drying time for the plastic food processor bowl and top bugs me.
In any case, it’s really not a pain to make fresh hashbrowns, and they’re better than frozen. Just get the starch out and dry them, and they’ll turn out great.
Actually, once a potato is peeled, I can shred it by hand in the time it takes me to take the food processor out of the cupboard, assemble it, feed the potato through, then clean it out of the bowl. Plus, only one piece to clean.
I agree with Chefguy. Unless you’re going to be peeling a peck o’ potatoes, the box grater or hand grater is easier.
Especially with something like Gratin Savoyard…two potatoes bim-bam on the mandoline side of the box, a half-cup of cheese on the shredding side, and everything’s ready to go into the oven before it’s even had a chance to preheat. And then you wash the box grater by hand in about five seconds.
The Cook’s Illustrated hash browns recipe is pretty flawless, even though it doesn’t call for rinsing the shredded spuds. Their recipe for Swiss roesti (essentially a pizza-sized hash browns for four or more) tells you to rinse, so I do it.
I used a box grater all my life, until The Missus moved in five years ago. It’s functional, but not very fast. (I still use it for small jobs.) Were it not for the food processor, we wouldn’t have hashbrowns every week.