I adore potatoes. I think they’re the reason I shall never be a truly slim person again, no matter how much I exercise, what else I eat or however positive my mental attitude. I think they’re versatile, magic, delicious, and I’m not sure what anyone in Europe ate until Sir Walter Raleigh did them possibly the greatest favour anyone’s done for the continent and bought some back from The Americas with him.
I really believe that what happens between the cut surface of a potato, and the hot bottom of a pan is some manner of witchcraft; that golden, crisp caramel which appears as you flip over a potato in the pan is surely one of the great miracles of cooking. One ingredient, and a world of texture and flavour.
This recipe is almost as simple as a recipe can be, and is all about process and diligence, rather than complex flavour combinations or special ingredients.
I also haven’t used any eggs here; a good floury potato caramelises easily well enough on its own to create a crisp surface that’ll hold the whole thing together, so have the courage of your convictions here and keep it as simple as possible. Of course, a happy byproduct is that the omission of egg makes this recipe entirely vegan.
The pan I use for this is a bog-standard IKEA steel frying pan (which I choose so I’m able to use a sharp, metal spatula, which i find useful for removing the hash browns from the bottom of the pan), but non-stick or ceramic pan would also be fine if you’d rather.
The quantities in the recipe are for one, good sized hash brown, suitable as a side-portion for one person, so scale up and down at will.
You will need –
- Two small-to-medium floury potatoes, such as King Edward or Maris Piper, around 120g
- Half a small onion, thinly sliced
- 2tbsp cooking oil
Heat oil the pan over a low medium heat then add the onions, and cook til golden brown, just on the cusp of beginning to crisp, 5 minutes, perhaps a little more.
Meanwhile, grate the potatoes on the coarse side of a grater, and mix with a good pinch of salt and grind of pepper.
Add the onions to the potatoes and mix well. Add a little more oil to the pan if it looks dry.
Pick up all the grated potato mixture and put it into a pile in the middle of the pan, then push down hard with a spatula to flatten. Push any loose bits together around the edge to make the most perfect circle you can, then leave to crisp on the underside, for between 5 and 10 minutes.
Gently and carefully push a spatula under the potatoes (if you’re not using non-stick, this may take a little force) til you’ve loosened the caramelised bits from the bottom and can easily slide the hash brown around the pan. Flip it over (you may need to use an inverted plate if you’re making a large hash brown) and cook for a further 5-10 on the other side til it’s crisp all over.
Eat with anything you like. I had mine with some kimchi and japanese pickles, but of course a classic accompaniment is eggs and bacon.
You can also augment your hash brown by adding leftover roast meat, diced, herbs, garlic, cheese, vegetables, or really anything you like.