My father, being of solid German stock, is naturally a connoisseur of all things potato. In particular, he loves nothing more than very crispy, shredded homemade hash browns for breakfast with his eggs.
Now, there are many ways of frying up potatoes for breakfast, and I think we do all of them.
But the shredded variety of hash browns holds a special place in his heart (mine too!) and for that reason, he has mastered the way to make them extra crispy.
Video: How to Make Crispy Hash Browns
Crispy Hash Browns
Crispy Hash Browns (Dad) vs. Mushy Hash Browns (Mom)
He explained his approach to me one day, while my mother was in the room and couldn't help but overhear:
ME: Dad, how do you make your hash browns turn out so crispy?
DAD: Use a potato ricer. It's the only thing I've found that really gets the moisture out of the potatoes. The trick to these hash browns is to get rid of as much moisture as possible before cooking them.
MOM: I always used paper towels to press out the moisture.
DAD: Your hash browns are mushy.
MOM: I made this family hash browns for forty years and you never complained. They're perfectly fine.
DAD: They were mushy.
MOM: You ate them!
DAD: Yes I did. And they were mushy.
(And the debate continues as I quietly leave the room...)
Mom's hash browns are mushy. Tasty, edible, yummy, but still mushy. They aren't as good as Dad's, and that is just a fact.
What Kind of Potatoes Work Best for Hash Browns?
Starchy potatoes like Russets work best for hash browns. Waxy potatoes like red new potatoes have a higher moisture content and tend to hold their shape better than starchy potatoes, and as such do not develop the crispiest of edges when fried.
Tips for the Crispiest Hash Browns
- Squeeze out moisture: Use a potato ricer, orange or lemon press, or a tea-towel to wring out excess moisture from the shredded raw potato. Some people find a salad spinner can work well too.
- Heat the oil in the pan first: Make sure you are using enough oil to generously coat the pan well, and get the oil shimmering before adding the potatoes.
- Spread the potatoes in a thin layer: A thin layer of shredded potatoes in the pan will help the hash browns crisp up better and cook more evenly.
- Wait to flip the potatoes until they are brown on one side: Peak underneath to see if they are browning up well, and when one side has fried to a golden brown, flip the potatoes to the other side.
What follows is my dad's way of making hash browns that turn out perfectly crispy and absolutely delicious. Have a favorite way to make crispy hash browns? Please let us know about it in the comments.
Love Breakfast Potatoes? Try These
Crispy Hash Browns
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound Russet baking potatoes
Salt and pepper
Peel and grate the potatoes:
Peel the potatoes and grate them using the large holes of a box grater.
Squeeze out the moisture:
Squeeze out as much moisture as you can from the grated potatoes. An easy way do this with a potato ricer (or an orange or lemon press), using it much like you would a garlic press, except you don't force the potatoes through the ricer. You just press out the excess moisture.
Work in batches and only fill the ricer half-way with the raw grated potatoes.
If you don't have a ricer, wrap the raw grated potatoes in a clean kitchen tea-towel and squeeze it until you have squeezed out as much moisture as you can. Work in batches to make it more manageable. Note that the potatoes can sometimes stain a cloth towel, so use one that you don't mind showing a bit of wear.
You can also use sturdy paper towels to squeeze out the moisture, though they don't work as well as cloth or a ricer.
Cook the hash browns:
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. When the oil heats up to the point of shimmering, but not smoking, add the grated potatoes, spreading them out evenly along the bottom of the pan. The potatoes should not be too thick in any one place—about 1/4 to a 1/2-inch thick.
Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the potatoes.
Flip the hash browns:
After a few minutes, lift up one edge of the potatoes and see how done they are. If they have fried to a golden brown, they are ready to flip.
Use a large metal spatula (or two spatulas) to flip the potatoes over all at once, or divide the large potato cake into halves or quarters and flip.
Continue to cook until they are golden brown on the bottom.
Use a metal spatula to cut into quarters and serve.