Hash Browns – Home fry style – v3

I’ve been working on this recipe for about the last 9 months, until I arrived at the recipe you see below. I’m not going to bother posting any of the earlier versions of the recipe, since they mostly resulted in being complete and utter failures. But some of the low lights from v1 & v2 include bland flavor, soft texture and excruciatingly long cooking times. So with that out of the way, it’s onto the winning recipe listed below.

Ingredients & Techniques:

  • 4 potatoes, of the Burbank russet variety
  • 1 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt, fresh ground black pepper and Lawry’s Season Salt
  • 2 TB Rendered Bacon fat

Rinse and peel the potatoes, then dice into about 3/4″ to 1″ pieces (in earlier versions of the recipe I used a french fry cutter to make the dice more uniform, but in the end I switched over to a hand cut dice technique). Rinse the potatoes again, and let the diced potatoes soak in cold water for at least 20 minutes. After the soaking time is done, drain the potatoes and add to a microwave safe bowl. To the potatoes add the olive oil, along with heavy pinches of salt, black pepper and Lawry’s. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 3 mins on high, shake, then microwave for 2 min 30 sec on high. During the last microwave cooking cycle, place a 10″ to 12″ frying pan on the stove with the bacon fat, and pre-heat the pan to #7.5 on the range dial (about medium high). Once the potatoes are done par-cooking in the microwave, add the potatoes and some more Lawry’s to the hot pan and cooking for a total time of 12 minutes (tossing the potatoes every 2 mins during that total time in the pan.) As soon as the potatoes are browned on all sides, serve to everyone delight.

Side notes:
1) For some reason I thought that it was going to be easy to make “home fries” at home. But it was a little more tricky then expected. Especially with regard to the par-cooking, since too much par-cooking before pan frying, just causes the potato to fall apart in the pan, into a big pile of mush. This was the big learning lesson in developing the recipe.
2) Also “higher” heat is a must, in order to get proper browning on the potatoes. During one of my early attempts, I cooked the potatoes on medium (#5) and it took about 30 mins in the pan to get good browning. But don’t go too hot (anything above #8), since you’re more likely to burn the potatoes instead of browning them.
3) One other thing about “heat”, is that you must pre-heat the pan almost to the point of the bacon fat almost smoking, before adding the par-cooked potatoes. Since if you start with a cooler pan, you’ll just end up having to cook the potatoes longer in the pan, in order to get a proper browning on all sides.
4) I’ve tried a couple of different spices combination, and for me the pinnacle of seasoning is salt, pepper and Lawry’s. The bacon fat addition is more of a recent addition to the flavor profile. Since originally I was using olive oil as the only fat in the recipe, which still turned out an excellent home fry, but the bacon fat adds a nice bacon smokiness to the dish.

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