Hash browns are mostly American in origin. Most everyone can agree that the recipe is built on previous recipes, and there is a lot about hash browns that evolved from the shredded potato dishes of Europe. They are clearly the descendants of the röesti of Switzerland, latkes of Eastern Europe, Kartoffelpuffer of Germany, and Spain’s tortilla de papas.
The defining feature of hash “browns” is the crispy browning that is essential to the freshly-cooked, very hot, very crisp and golden, very potatoe-y version. This is much preferred by MHT over the diner hash browns that look and taste like dirty bath sponges soaked in grease.
The name is derived from French: “hacher,” meaning “to chop”. It originated as a way to use up leftovers. By the 1860s, a cheap restaurant was called a “hash house” or “hashery” in the US.
Crispy Potato Hash Browns
- Large cast-iron or nonstick skillet
- Box grater or food processor with grating attachment
- Kitchen towel
- Large plate
- 2 lb Russet potatoes, peeled
- 6 tbsp Vegetable oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- Shred potatoes on the largest holes of a box grater or food processor. Wrap potato shreds in a kitchen towel and twist to extract as much liquid as possible.
- Transfer potatoes to a large plate lined with paper towels. Cook in a microwave for 2 minutes.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil begins to simmer add potatoes. Using a spatula, press potatoes down into a tight even layer. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip to brown on the other side, another 2-3 minutes. Drain on a paper towel lined plate. Serve hot with Tabasco or ketchup on the side.