Last week I experienced a cooking failure. Planning to make a ham dinner, I decided to try my hand at homemade au gratin potatoes. While the cheese sauce was delicious, the potatoes were a bit on the al dente side. And potatoes, as opposed to pasta, shouldn’t be served al dente. I placed the baking dish back into the oven for more baking. . .and then a little more baking, but to no avail. The dish was a flop. My husband was kind and ate a serving, but I knew the dish was a flop.
The next day I decided that I needed to redeem myself by proving that I was master of the potato. While I could have made another batch of au gratin potatoes, having the same dinner twice didn’t seem like fun. Rather I decided to use the leftover ham in a breakfast for dinner meal. Included in the assortment of dishes would be hash browns.
This recipe for hash browns is ridiculously simple. It can use as little as one ingredient: potatoes. If you prefer you can add some shredded onion and/or season the hash brown with salt and pepper, but that’s all that goes into the hash browns. However, there is one crucial element to the cooking of the hash browns, which is the use of oil. While it feels odd for me to advocate using more oil, when I try to use as little as possible when cooking, the oil is what will make the hash browns crispy and golden.
Served with french toast, eggs, ham, and fresh fruit, these potato creations did the job of redeeming me and my potato cooking skills. There was no need to re-cook, reheat, or discard these hash browns. They simply were devoured.
Incredibly Simple Hash Browns
4 potatoes, peeled
1/4 small onion, optional
salt & pepper
Using the coarse side of a box grater, shred potatoes. Transfer to colander and rinse well. Allow to drain. If using onion, shred and set aside.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in frying pan over medium heat. While pan is warming, take approximately 1/3 cup of shredded potato and place it on a double layer of paper towels. Squeeze firmly to remove all excess water. If adding onion combine drained potato and 1 teaspoon of onion in a small bowl. Place potato mixture in frying pan, and flatten using the back of a spatula. Season uncooked side with salt and pepper.
Allow potato to cook for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the edges become golden brown. Flip and cook the other side for an additional 3 or 4 minutes. Repeat the same process with remaining potato. Be sure to add more oil before cooking each hash brown.
Hash browns are best when eaten immediately after cooking.