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Practicing the basics: hash browns

Hash browns

Hash browns are underrated as comfort food. We often don’t think of potatoes as breakfast food, but they are a good source of carbs at the beginning of an active day. Browning them in a skillet imparts a lot of flavor, and they are great side dish as part of a hot breakfast when paired with a good source of protein like scrambled eggs, omelets, bacon or sausage.

Hash browns are essentially shredded potatoes sauteed in a bit of oil — very basic stuff, but tasty none the less.

I’ll leave it to you to decide whether it’s okay to put ketchup on them.

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Makes approximately 4 servings. Time required: 20-25 minutes.


  • 1 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes (about two medium-sized potatoes)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • Dash of ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. butter, margarine or cooking oil

Peel the potatoes, then coarsely grate them. You can grate them by hand with a box grater, but this is a great reason to own a food processor: it will perfectly grate the potatoes in under 30 seconds, while doing it by hand will take you 5-10 minutes.

Wrap the grated potatoes in cheesecloth or place them in a strainer bag, and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Strainer bags are incredibly useful for this, and well worth the small amount to buy a few.

Heat the butter/margarine/oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until it melts, and spread it to cover the bottom of the skillet.

Add potatoes to the skillet, spreading to create an even layer. Sprinkle on the salt and pepper.

When the bottom of the potatoes is browned and crisp, about 5-7 minutes, flip over the potatoes to cook the other side until browned, about 5-7 minutes more. Use a stovetop spatula to lift up the edge to check on how well it’s browning underneath. To flip it, you will likely need to break it into pieces first. Alternately, you can slide it out of the skillet onto a large heat-safe plate, put another plate uspide-down on top, invert the two plates, and then slide it back into the skillet. The second side will cook faster than the first one because it has warmed up already.

Remove from the skillet and serve.

Tips and suggestions:

  • There are lots of interesting ways to season hash browns. Certainly you can start by modifying the amount of salt and pepper. But you can experiment with other spices as well: nutmeg, cumin, cayenne pepper. Also herbs, such as chives or tarragon. Potatoes don’t have a lot of flavor themselves, so start with small amounts of other flavors so that you don’t overwhelm the potato.
  • Try using leftover bacon fat instead of butter/margarine/oil.

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