Whenever I order hash browns at a restaurant, I always ask for them extra-crispy. There is something about that golden crispy exterior that keeps me coming back for more. Our world is addicted to crispiness, whether the snap of a perfectly cooked French fry, sinking your teeth into southern fried chicken, kettle cooked potato chips, or even a freshly picked apple off the tree. I am going to look at two different methods, the first the proper way I was taught at culinary school to create a crispy exterior with a soft interior and the second method originally featured on Food52's genius recipies to make a thin lattice of ultra crispy potatoes. I love this method because I can create a great garnish perfect for breakast or brunch. I will use this to create my ultimate crispy breakfast sandwich. These I will cover next time.
First let us look at the classic hash brown preparation. The obstacle we face as chefs to create a crispy crust is water. Too much water and the potatoes will steam, and potatoes are over 80% water; so we need to get rid of some. This can be agrivated when we add vegetables to the equation which release their own water when cooking. The second problem is the potatoes will brownish grey after shredding due to the reaction with the enzymes in the potato reacting with the oxigen in the air. This is easily remeded by having the freshly shredded potatoes sit in a cold water bath completly covered with the water. Just before cooking we need to squeeze out as much water as we can. This can be done a number of ways. Paper towel, a salad spinner, using a potato ricer, but I prefer using a kitchen towel. Drain the potatoes and dry in the towel. Center the potatoes in the towel and bring the 4 corners up and grasp in one hand and twist the potatoes squeezing out as much water as you can. Cook any vegetables separately until they have released their water which is when they begin to brown and mix unto the hashbrowns just before serving.
3 medium russet potatoes
1 Onion sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat a skillet on medium and slice the onion into 1/8 inch slices. Add some oil to cover the bottom of the hot pan and add the onions in a single layer. Season and cook until they start to brown. Continue to cook until desired doneness then reserve.
Pre-heat a cast-iron skillet on medium and peel the potatoes. Shred the potatoes using a box grater and wash under cold running water to remove excess starch. Reserve covered in cold water until needed to stop the potatoes turning brown. When ready to cook, drain in a colander then place in the middle of a clean kitchen towel. Gather up the four corners and twist the towel to squeeze as much water out as possible. Add olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet and add the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil over top. Cook slowly until browned on the bottom lifting with a spatula and checking periodically. Cover with a plate and flip onto the plate; then gently slide back into the skillet to brown the other side. Season the top with salt and pepper and when crisp on the bottom remove to a plate. You can flip onto the plate again and slide onto a serving patter. Sprinkle the onions over top and serve immediately. Serves 2 to 4 people.
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How does a good chef think? What is the creative process a
chef uses to come up with new and exciting dishes? What do I need to know to enable that creative process? These are the questions I want to explore in this series of articles. As a chef and an avid cookbook collector I am drawn towards
ideas and techniques of cooking rather than just a collection of recipes. I believe to grow as a chef, I need to continually learn and hone new techniques along with perfecting each technique I use every day. Whenever I go to a restaurant, whether fine dining, neighborhood pub, avant garde, or even fast food, I continually ask myself how can I do this better, what works and more important, what doesn’t? Feel free to send me comments, ask questions. Together, we can explore and make creative cuisine.
Spending almost thirty years in the computing field, I was able to travel experiencing a wide variety of tremendous cuisine. First I became a foodie, and when the opportunity arose, I was able to attend culinary school following my passion. I work as a part-time private chef and volunteer time at the community café in North Bend Oregon providing affordable meals in a restaurant setting to my community.