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Old 01-13-2012, 01:08 AM   #1
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Help wanted for making hash brown potatoes golden

Not long ago, I had breakfast at a well known family chain restaurant, with supposedly good cooks, yet I got some hashbrowns that weren't cooked well at all. In other words, it seems hashbrowns need some skill to be cooked just right. The places that have cooked consistently good golden hash browns for me were at small diners (greasy spoon joints). A 3 egg special of hash browns and toast. The cook brushed on butter to the big flat cooking surface before piling on the spuds.

I keep trying to duplicate that in my kitchen and am getting better at it, but other times, I end up with them being oil drenched, even tho the oil was hot enough, but they still don't come out golden brown. Spreading some butter on them while frying helped to get that golden color a few times.

I'm about to buy a good sized potato ricer after reading an article about how moisture is the reason for mushy un-golden hashbrowns. I've been using paper towels to soak up moisture, which is awkward because they stick to the paper towel. The article said that using paper towels isn't the way, leaves too much moisture. I cook them with a large pretty good quality non-stick pan and canola oil at high enough heat. Perhaps the non-stick isn't as good as using stainless steel? The oil never seems to spread itself evenly in a non-stick pan. That might be one reason, along with the moisture content.

I'm trying to achieve hashbrowns something like the pic below, often times mine turn out not so golden brown at all and oil soaked.

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Old 01-13-2012, 01:11 AM   #2
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frying the spuds in bacon grease and a dusting of paprika will help do the trick.
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:20 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by buckytom View Post
frying the spuds in bacon grease and a dusting of paprika will help do the trick.
Ya, but the paprika seems like a visual effect shortcut. Bacon grease? Why? Not necessarily doubting you as I've had some good success frying with bacon grease rather than canola oil.

Edit: The article said don't rice the potatoes, just use it to squeeze all the water out, I knew you knew that.
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:56 AM   #4
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Use Russet potatoes. Peel, boil in salted water until fork done. Remove from water and let steam dry. Grate them on a box grater. Using bacon grease is a good idea. It will give the potatoes flavor. If you have a square grill use that. You can spread out the grated potatoes and they will loose the moisture as they saute' Once you put them on the hot grill, do not play with them. Let them brown. If you have a bacon press, use it on the potatoes. When you think they have browned, (check after about three or four minutes) turn them over. Repeat the process.

If you have ever watched a cook in a diner, he puts everything on the grill and leaves the food alone while it cooks. The hash browns the diner uses are pre cooked. If the cook is not prepping his own potaotes, then he is purchasing them blanched and frozen from a restaurant purveyor. He dumps the whole bag about three pounds and they sit up in the corner of the grill getting warm and thawing out. When an order comes, he pulls some out of the pile, and cooks them as above. The grill where he cooks the taters is about 400ºF. If you notice he put them near where the bacon is. That is the hottest part of the grill. The eggs go to the lower temp. About 300ºF. There are probably four burners under the grill. Each one is set for a different temp. The burner where the taters are warming is about 250ºF. Most diners will also have the bacon, sausages or ham slices sitting up where the taters are so that they will cook faster when needed. There is a science to it all. You just have to be observant.
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Old 01-13-2012, 02:07 AM   #5
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bacon grease for both the taste and visual effect. paprika for both as well.
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Old 01-13-2012, 02:38 AM   #6
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[QUOTE=Addie;1095281]
If you have ever watched a cook in a diner /QUOTE]

Making those kind of golden hash browns in about 15 minutes is what I'm going for. I will use fresh or frozen, whatever gets me there to enjoy with a Breakfast Jack (egg ham and cheese on hamburger bun).

I might quicken up the hash browns by pan frying Ore-Ida Shredded Potato Patties. Gonna see how that goes. I might nuke em a bit first, or thaw them. I realize those ARE precooked, not just blanched and frozen.
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Old 01-13-2012, 06:44 AM   #7
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Butter, parboiled and thinly sliced or 3/8" cubes.
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Old 01-13-2012, 07:43 AM   #8
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Pan seal them for a perfect golden colour and finish cooking them in the oven (220 degrees Celsius) or in a deep fryer (170 degrees Celsius).
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Old 01-13-2012, 08:21 AM   #9
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"Don't play with them"-- +1 on that. Put them on the hot pan and LEAVE THEM ALONE. Works for browning chunks of meat for stew, as well.
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Old 01-13-2012, 08:48 AM   #10
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"Don't play with them"-- +1 on that. Put them on the hot pan and LEAVE THEM ALONE. Works for browning chunks of meat for stew, as well.
good advice, but hard to do--for me, anyway.
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Old 01-13-2012, 09:23 AM   #11
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I use butter, freshly shredded potatoes (yukon gold), and my 6 inch griswold cast iron pan to make perfectly round, and golden has browns for my wife. If I'm making hash browns for both her and I, I use the 8 inch wagner CI pan. Another key to good hash browns is to not pile the shredded spuds too thick, so that the inside will be done when the outside is golden. And season while cooking with salt, maybe a touch of turmeric (optional), pepper, and a little paprika, or cayenne pepper. Season with your tastes in mind. The frying is what browns them.

I haven't tried it, but would think broiling them carefully would work very well with hash browns. Pan fry just enough to give the dish a little oil on its surface, transfer to a baking sheet, shape, and place under the broiler. That should elliminate them soaking up too much oil. I haven't tried this technique, but I don't see why it wouldn't work wonderfully.

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Old 01-13-2012, 09:23 AM   #12
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I bet a lot of diners and such start out their hash browns with dehydrated shredded potatoes. I've seen the product, they often come in a carton, like a big milk carton and they add water to rehydrate them. I am willing to bet that there are ingredients meant to "improve" the product.

I bet between the dehydrated potato (no need to fry long enough to fully cook potato) and a rippin' hot grill, that's how they achieve the golden brown crispy potatoes.
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Old 01-13-2012, 09:29 AM   #13
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Another thing diners often do is put a weight on the cooking potatoes to ensure maximum contact with the hot grill surface. You can buy cast iron ones either round or rectangular in shape with a wood handle.
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Old 01-13-2012, 09:43 AM   #14
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for hash browns, home fries, and for any other fried potatoes i like bacon grease or duck fat best. this is one of those rare instances in which butter comes in a distant third. oh, and also for pan frying sauerkraut or cabbage....:)
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Old 01-13-2012, 10:16 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vitauta View Post
for hash browns, home fries, and for any other fried potatoes i like bacon grease or duck fat best. this is one of those rare instances in which butter comes in a distant third. oh, and also for pan frying sauerkraut or cabbage....:)
Don't some parts of the middle east use chicken fat? I think they call it Schmalls. I know it browns chicken skin to a glorious golden brown color.

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Old 01-13-2012, 10:24 AM   #16
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Fat encourages browning. I find butter to be an excellent choice.

It's really simple. Dry shredded potatoes, fat, adequate heat and weight on top. I'd guess the diners, drive-ins and dives that make great hash browns stick with vegetable oil or butter rather than other, less common fats.
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Old 01-13-2012, 10:57 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Chief Longwind Of The North View Post
Don't some parts of the middle east use chicken fat? I think they call it Schmalls. I know it browns chicken skin to a glorious golden brown color.

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Old 01-13-2012, 10:59 AM   #18
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[QUOTE=Caslon;1095289]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Addie View Post
If you have ever watched a cook in a diner /QUOTE]

Making those kind of golden hash browns in about 15 minutes is what I'm going for. I will use fresh or frozen, whatever gets me there to enjoy with a Breakfast Jack (egg ham and cheese on hamburger bun).

I might quicken up the hash browns by pan frying Ore-Ida Shredded Potato Patties. Gonna see how that goes. I might nuke em a bit first, or thaw them. I realize those ARE precooked, not just blanched and frozen.


Ore Ida sells frozen loose hash browns in addition to patties.

I use them sometimes; they are pretty good. But then tater tots are one if my 4 food groups.
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Old 01-13-2012, 11:37 AM   #19
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I have never been able to make perfect hashbrowns from scratch either (at least not with raw potatoes). I think the real 'secret' is to use par-cooked potatoes as mentioned earlier. I also think my box shredder doesn't create as large of a shred as the commercial, pre-shredded potatoes. I tend to just buy the frozen shredded (loose) potatoes which I think must be par-cooked and maybe even coated with a little oil before frozen. I have often wondered if (but have never tried) tossing shredded potatoes with a tablespoon or so of oil before dumping them in the pan would help (rather than putting the oil in the pan).
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Old 01-13-2012, 11:47 AM   #20
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Moisture is one of the problems. You might want to try squeezing your grated potato in cheesecloth to squeeze out moisture, and/or dry the grated potato by wrapping in a clean cloth towel (instead of paper).

Does anybody else add grated onion to their potato? I know it won't be hash brown potatoes any more but I like mine this way, up to 50:50 onion:potato. The onions have a lot more moisture so that's how I came up with my moisture reduction ideas mentioned above.
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