Homemade Hash browns

Hash browns are an iconic part of the American breakfast. I remember first ordering hash browns as a child completely enamored with this totally foreign way of cooking spuds.

Now, pregnant with our first child, potatoes have become a way of life. For months I couldn’t stand cooking or eating meat. So how did I quench the desire for hearty, filling food? Potatoes, of course.

But not just any potatoes. I wanted hash browns.

Homemade Hash Browns
Homemade Hash Browns

Hash browns surprisingly really quick and easy to make at home.

Quicker than baked potatoes or potato fries or just about any other kind of potato, hash browns are something we now eat regularly. They’re simple, they’re delicious, and bonus, they’re a whole food. (We don’t always eat whole foods, but we try!)

So what is the trick to hash browns at home?

Well, I’ve found the trick is grating the potatoes on a box grater, placing them in a tea or cheese cloth, and straining as much water out as possible.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from cooking on cast iron, it’s the importance of proper space and reducing excess moisture.

Proper space, proper moisture = even browning and caramelization. The scientific term for this brown goodness? The Maillard reaction.

The Maillard Reaction

The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction. As amino acids morph and sugars reduce, we're left with "caramelization" or "browning". And it occurs when your meats, veggies, or starches have enough room to breathe on the skillet.

By straining our hash browns through a tea towel or cheese cloth, we're removing water from our hash browns. By removing excess water, we’re removing the number one enemy of caramelization-water. Water causes steam, steam prevents browning, no browning, no flavor, sad day.

Additionally, by removing water, we are also removing what would be taking up space in the skillet. When you overcrowd a hot cast iron skillet, or any pan or dish for that matter, you allow there to be pockets of moisture, which again, is the enemy of browning.

So next time you’re in the kitchen craving some crispy goodness, remember to leave plenty of space in that skillet, pan, or whatever your cooking device of choice is.

How to make hash browns

Grate desired amount of potatoes

(TIP: to avoid oxidation-potatoes turning brown-grate, strain, and cook potatoes in batches)

Place hash brown chunks in tea towel or cheese cloth

Strain hash browns removing as much water as possible

Heat a cast iron skillet (my preference, but use what you have) to about medium high heat

Add enough oil to coat bottom of pan

Add potatoes

Create separate sections of potatoes (for easier flipping and better browning)

Season with a dash of salt per section

(optional, for speedier cooking) Cover with a lid for a few minutes until potatoes are translucent (may affect browning! beware!)

Once translucent, flip sections of potatoes

Continue cooking until brown and crispy and delicious

Season to taste!

Enjoy!

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Happy cooking,

Natalie

Homemade Hash browns

Homemade hash browns are a delicious and nutritious whole food staple here and they're easy to make!

Grate desired amount of potatoes

Place hash brown chunks in tea towel or cheese cloth

Strain hash browns removing as much water as possible

Heat a cast iron skillet (my preference, but use what you have) to about medium high heat

Add enough oil to coat bottom of pan

Add potatoes

Create separate sections of potatoes (for easier flipping and better browning)

Season with a dash of salt per section

(optional, for speedier cooking) Cover with a lid for a few minutes until potatoes are translucent (may affect browning! beware!)

Once translucent, flip sections of potatoes

Continue cooking until brown and crispy and delicious

Season to taste!