Let's be real, any potato is a good potato... but if you want to make the BEST Hash Browns ever, all it takes is a little work the day before!
Originally published July 24, 2020. Updated on 4/6/2021
I LOVE potatoes. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a potato dish I didn’t like.
You know Bubba rattling off all the shrimp dishes in Forest Gump? Swap it out for potatoes, and that’s me.
Of course, Perogies are my first love (Winnipeg represent!), but Scalloped Potatoes have been way up there, since I was very young. Potato Sausage, Gnocchi, Potato Salad, Smoked French Fries, and - of course - Poutine.
So many things you can do with potatoes!
Hash browns are such a great accompaniment to almost any breakfast, I’m honestly surprised that I didn’t form much of an opinion on the subject before a few years ago!
In my young adult years, I’d just toss the frozen McCain potatoes into a pan at home and not think twice about it. Of course, I’d always appreciate restaurant home fries style hash browns more.
I’d say “Any port in a storm”, but ... again, any potato is a good potato 🙂
Several years ago, I got really into making Low Country Boil for summer dinners at home.
Low Country Boil - or “Frogmore Stew” - is a beautiful thing, especially when you really run wild with it.
I don’t even remember how I got started with it, but it was a pretty basic preparation.
That eventually morphed into doing really flavourful broth preparations for it, which elevated the whole thing immensely.
The items used to flavour it - as well as the actual food items to be served as the meal - would make a broth so rich with flavour, it permeated the potatoes as they cooked.
Not only would the potatoes taste great with the meal itself, we soon learned that leftover potatoes, chopped up and fried, made the BEST hash browns.
Basic hash browns are great, of course, but making hash browns from potatoes that have been infused with complex flavour?
We only tend to make Low Country Boil in the summertime, because that’s when fresh corn is in season. So, we had to adapt things to be able to have great hash browns year round.
The BEST Hash Browns Ever!
This, my Best Hash Browns Recipe ever, takes the idea behind the Low Country Boil potatoes, without having to make the actual meal itself.
What we usually do is make a big batch of these once a week or so. We make the broth, we boil and chill the potatoes, and we keep them in a covered container in the fridge.
As we make hash browns, we take out what we need and fry them up fresh. That way, the bulk of the effort - the broth and boiling the potatoes - happens once, and makes for a really convenient breakfast, going forward.
Pan frying the boiled potatoes is quicker and easier than using frozen hash browns, and also provides a much nicer texture.
The boiling means that the potatoes are already cooked all the way through, by the time they hit the pan. All you’re doing is heating them through and crisping up the outsides.
That’s the one caveat to my “every potato is a good potato” thing - under-cooked potatoes in hash browns make me sad. Same for burnt hash browns, when the insides aren’t cooking fast enough. Problem solved!
As you’ll see, this isn’t so much an actual recipe, as a set of vague guidelines.
You can make as much or as little as you want. Also, frankly, I have no idea what an actual “serving size” of hash browns is. I’m not gonna judge you, don’t judge me 🙂
Your starter broth can be whatever you’re in the mood for. I like chicken broth, but sometimes use vegetable broth, as they’re fairly neutral flavours.
This comes in handy when making a batch of hashbrown potatoes to last the week, as we don’t usually know what exactly we’ll be serving with it.
You can use mushroom broth or beef broth if you’d like, even seafood if you’re feeling adventurous. Beef broth is nice when you use these hash browns to make corned beef hash, for instance (Beer works really nicely for that, also!)
When we use beer, we usually go for something pretty mildly flavoured, like a Molson, Labatt, or Corona. IPAs can be fun if you want a breakfast with a bit more flavour kick, though!
Base Flavour Ingredients
We never skimp on the onions and garlic. Usually I’ll throw some celery in - it’s a good way to use up the tops and insides of any celery bunch we may have in the fridge.
Beyond that, peppers are another hugely important ingredient in our versions of this. We usually add a fair amount of jalapeno pepper.
Sometimes a habanero, but we find the jalapeno has a more “neutral” - maybe “versatile” is a better word? - flavour when it comes to working with other breakfast items. The fruitiness of the habanero tends to clash with some things, IMHO.
The big thing to remember is to add way more than you think you need, whatever ingredient we’re talking about.
You’re not making broth in the sense of making something you’d eat as a soup or sip on, think of it more like making a sludge of flavours that would be WAY too potent to consume on its own. Trust me on this.
Accent Flavour Ingredients
Once you’ve got a good base going, you can round it out with whatever herbs and spices you’d like - again, just think ahead to the breakfasts you like to make, and what all would go well with them.
Rosemary, thyme, sage, etc are great. Add a bit of prepared mustard (The real stuff, not that yellow nonsense! I like Kozlik’s Mustard best of all, but even grocery store Dijon works well), or just some mustard powder.
Mustard seeds work, you’ll just want to use a sieve afterwards, rather than fishing items out.
Toss a bay leaf in, some ground pepper, etc.
Have you discovered the joys of Smoked Serrano Powder? Toss that in, too!
Just get ridiculous with it. It’ll pay off in the end!
Follow the directions in the recipe below to get the potatoes done up, and enjoy!
More Breakfast and Brunch Recipes
Looking for more ideas to jazz up your breakfast experience! Here are a few more recipes for you:
Ambrosia Belgian Waffles
Apple Cinnamon Buns
Baking Powder Biscuits
Biscuits and Gravy - MY Way!
Breakfast Bagel Strata
Chai Cinnamon Rolls
Deluxe Pizza Strata
Easy Banana Bread
Easy Cheese Souffle
Fig, Honey, and Goat Cheese Strudel
Ham, Swiss, and Kale Strata
How to Make Peameal and Back Bacon
Maple Walnut Spiced Pumpkin Buns
Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Rosemary Peach Balsamic Scones
Smoked Gouda and Chive Scones
Strawberry Orange Rolls
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The BEST Hash Browns
- Broth of choice We usually use chicken
- Light tasting beer of choice Optional
- Celery ribs and/or leaves Optional
- Onion(s) Peeled and sliced
- Garlic Cloves Peeled
- Jalapenos, habaneros, or whatever Optional - sliced
- Mustard of choice Optional
- Herbs and spices of choice Dried sage, bay leaf, thyme, mustard powder, dried parsley, pepper
- 2 lbs Potatoes of Choice We usually use baby potatoes
- Butter or Olive Oil
The day before you want to make the hashbrowns:
- Get a pot of an appropriate size for the amount of potatoes you’re looking to cook. Fill it about ⅔ with broth. If you’re using beer, count that amount towards the ⅔ goal. This isn’t hard science, everything is an estimate!
- Break your celery into pieces that will fit in the pot, if using. I’ll usually just toss the tops/ insides of whatever celery we have lying around into the pot - it’s a great way to use it up!
- Peel and rough chop an onion or two into the pot. You’ll be straining out these pieces later, so large chunks are easier to fish out later!
- Add some garlic cloves to the pot. We usually go pretty heavy on them.
- Slice up some jalapenos or habaneros into the pot - use gloves if you have them! You’ll want to add more peppers than you think you’ll need - not all of the flavour that comes out of the peppers is actually going to make it into the potatoes. The broth in general should be WAY more potent than something you’d have as a soup.
- If using mustard, put a good tablespoon or more in - everything is to your taste.
- Taste, season with whatever herbs and spices you’re using.
- Once you’ve got a good mix going, bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer on low for 30 minutes or so.
- Once the time is up, use a slotted spoon to remove all the solids from the pot. Alternatively, strain through a mesh colander, into another pot.
- Bring broth up to a boil again.
- Chop potato into bite sized chunks. I usually cut baby potatoes into 4 pieces each, for reference. Add to the pot.
- Boil potatoes for about 15 minutes, or until just fork tender. Strain potatoes, discard broth.
- Allow potatoes to cool to room temperature before transferring to the fridge to chill overnight.
When you want to make the hashbrowns:
- Heat up a bit of butter or olive oil in a nonstick pan.
- Add potatoes to the pan, cook over medium-high heat until potatoes are browned and crispy.
- Serve hot!