The BEST Hash Browns Recipe
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.
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!
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