Until I worked in food sales, I always admired hash browns at restaurants. They were usually crispy, perfectly shaped, and golden brown. Then I got into cooking and food sales and realized that most restaurants use a premade product from McCain’s or Cavendish. Pretty much the only two companies that make foodservice quantities of cubed hash browns. Don’t get me wrong; there is a place and time for these products. But if you are a restaurant owner and you’re reading this article, consider making them from scratch. It takes a few extra steps, and in the restaurant industry time is money. So grabbing precooked and packed products can be easier and sometimes cheaper. The short-order cook at the local greasy spoon would rather deep fry some prepackaged food than have to take the time and effort to make a whole new batch of potatoes. But I think my recipe is perfect for the at-home cook: no deep frying and very little waste.
The most important part of this recipe the type of potato you choose. I prefer russets for a couple of my recipes. Russets make for better double-baked, French fries, mashed potatoes, and hash browns.
I don’t know what it is about them, though they do tend to be softer when baked and easier to work with. I like red, white, yellow, and have a huge adoration for purple, but russets are really the workhorse of potatoes for me. Reds and whites have too much starch, so they don’t break down the same as russets. I prefer those for roasting, while purples are the same. Because of the starch content, they do not make for good mashed, potatoes either, in my opinion. So if you’re someone who just gave up making mashed potatoes because it never worked out, it might be the type of potato you were using. You might be great at making mashed potatoes, but you chose a potato that doesn’t work well with being mashed. That was something I did for a cooking competition.
I was in my last year of culinary school. I signed up for a “Black Box” competition and chose to mash some Russian blue (also known as purple) potatoes. In retrospect, I should have roasted a melody of potatoes instead. Some simple oil, salt, and let the potatoes speak for themselves. It was a rookie mistake, but I learned a valuable lesson. I still have a great passion for potatoes, and I will usually critique my wife’s work when she is making something with potatoes—which is why I tend to cook most of the meals. A little secret for you newly-wed’s; there is the right way to approach a criticism, then there is my way. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy cooking. We decided a while ago that if I were going to be the parent at home, I would do the cooking.
Some interesting facts about potatoes: they are part of the nightshade family, which is why we have to cook them. Stompin’ Tom Conners wrong a song about them. His song celebrates the PEI potato from Cavendish. There are about 5000 different varieties globally, and we are only familiar with a small selection in Canada. Three fifths of the varieties are found in South America. McDonald’s restaurants are said to prefer the Burbank Russet for their French fries. Potatoes should be stored at 4C if held for the long term; otherwise, they should be kept around 7 – 10 C. It is colder than most houses, mine for sure. So if you do not have a cold room, your refrigerator is the best storage place.
4 -5 medium russet potatoes
1 -2 tbsp canola oil
1-2 tsp Kosher salt
- Dice your potatoes into equal-sized cubes—about ¼ to ½ inches.
- Place them into a medium-sized pot and cover them with water. Add 1 -2 tablespoons of salt.
- Bring the pot to a boil and allow the potatoes to boil for about 5-10 minutes. You want them soft, but not super soft. You should be able to pierce them with a fork and have them slide off. If 5 – 10 minutes is not enough, let them keep boiling, but check them every 5 minutes. You want them to slide off a fork with a bit of encouragement… pushing them gently.
- Once they have finished, strain the potatoes and put them on a baking sheet with parchment and allow them to cool completely. If you do this the night before, they can sit in your fridge until morning.
- Heat a frying pan or griddle to medium heat (around 350F).
- Add the oil to the potatoes and toss them a couple of times to thoroughly coat them. You can just put them in a bowl if that’s easiest. BUT be careful; you want to toss them gently, so you don’t break them up.
- Once your skillet or griddle are heated up, add your potatoes in batches if you need to, cook over medium-high heat.
- Give them a flip every few minutes to ensure you are getting good browning on all sides.
- Once all the potatoes are heated through, add the salt, and you’re done.
- ALTERNATIVE COOKING METHODS:
- You can cook the potatoes in an oven set to 350F. Make sure you stir them every five minutes to get them cooked evenly.
- If you have a deep frier, set it to 350F and fry the cubes a handful at a time until they are crispy.
- Add salt to taste.