We all know why we love hash browns, right? For the uninitiated (or those too busy scoffing the delicious treats down to care), it's because the potatoes are shredded into tiny bits with lots of surface area.
I don't think I need to convince you that in the genre of breakfast, potatoes need to be extra crispy. Eggs are soft and require contrast if you're going to properly wake your taste buds up early in the morning. Breakfast potatoes are a firm base upon which a fluffy scramble can luxuriously perch.
The way to go forward with breakfast potatoes is to cut them in slices, not cubes. This way, your root veggies have lots more surface area, and you can smash the hell out of them with the back of a spatula. This, along with six more potato hacks, will ensure your home fries are ultra crispy, every time.
1. Use Russet potatoes
These are nice and starchy: extra starch means extra crisp, and that means extra satisfaction. They're not only crispy when cooked well: they're also fluffy and break down easily (which is why they're also used for mashed potatoes).
2. Slice right
You don't want paper thin pieces because then, you've got yourself a Pommes Anna (another recipe for another day, my friends). You want potato fluff between the crunchy layers. Envisage the contrast and cut the slices about an eighth of an inch thick.
There are two reasons you should parboil your potatoes. One, you don’t want to end up with raw insides, which can happen with the hot and fast method (starch takes longer to cook than protein) and two, parboiling helps that starch swell up, meaning that when it hits the hot pan, those surface granules will explode into a crispy, crunchy exterior. Tell me that doesn't sound sexy. The ideal parboiled potato slice is one you can barely pierce through with a fork: think picking up a cucumber slice in a salad.
4. Dry well, friends
Wet potatoes in a pan mean steamed potatoes. After you parboil, drain them into a colander, give them a good shake and then lay them out on a tray lined with paper towels. Water will drip off, and the steam will disperse into the air.
5. Rocket-hot skillet
Your best bet is a cast iron skillet. You want to get that thing the temperature of the flat top grill at the diner: hot enough to make you a full breakfast in less than 90 seconds. Sprinkle some water onto the pan and it should vaporize almost instantly. That's when you know you're ready. Next, coat the bottom with oil. You're not deep frying but you don't want to chintz either. Make sure your potatoes are evenly coated.
6. Smashy smashy
Put your potatoes in a small bowl, toss with some salt and pepper, as well as the onions and peppers if you went that way. Carefully tip the whole mess into the rocket-hot skillet, spread out a bit with a flat-bottomed spatula, then smash those suckers down and make them sizzle.
Let your potatoes brown, then flip them over. Don't stress if the unit doesn't stay in a solid mass. Remember: it's not a big hash brown or potato pancake. When they're done, spread them on a plate and let them cool a bit (take an Instagram pic or two while you wait).
With these potato hacks, all of your brunches will pack some serious punches in the carb department. Cook your eggs right, and don't forget the alcohol. Soon, you'll be the envy of all your friends.