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Homemade Hashbrowns

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OK...I'm a hashbrown freak! I'm a pretty good cook, and I've tried perfecting this from scratch with fresh spuds. I have not been able to come close to making good browns. One thing I have contended with is the browning (sulfates or whatever it is) of the shredded potatoes. Rinsing them in cold water after shredding them has fixed this. I also have them sometimes turn mushy into a clump and gooey and I'm assuming this is a starch thing. I have heard that blanching them or nuking the spud initially cooks the starch and alleviates the sticky/gooey deal. I also notice a big difference between russets, reds, and yellows for starch content. Still none of what I try make a good hash-brown.

Unfortunately, I've resorted back to buying the frozen hash-browns and cooking them in a little crisco.

Can anyone recommend the following:

- Type of potatoe to use

- Method to get good hash-browns?

Thanks in advance for any help.

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from cooks illustrated sept 98

Serves 4. Published September 1, 1998.

To prevent potatoes from turning brown, grate them just before cooking. For individual servings, simply divide the grated potatoes into four equal portions and reduce cooking time to 5 minutes per side. To vary flavor, add 2 tablespoons grated onion, 1 to 2 tablespoons herb of choice, or roasted garlic to taste, to the raw grated potatoes. You can also garnish the cooked hash browns with snipped chives or scallion tops just before serving.

Ingredients

1 pound high-starch potatoes such as russets or Idahos, peeled, washed, dried, grated coarse, and squeezed dry (1 1/2 cups loosely packed grated potatoes)

1/4 teaspoon table salt

Ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

Instructions

1. Toss fully dried grated potatoes with salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

2.

2. Meanwhile, heat half the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until it just starts to brown, then scatter potatoes evenly over entire pan bottom. Using a wide spatula, firmly press potatoes to flatten; reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until dark golden brown and crisp, 7 to 8 minutes.

3.

3. Invert hash browns, browned side up, onto a large plate; add remaining butter to pan. Once butter has melted, slide hash browns back into pan. Continue to cook over medium heat until remaining side is dark golden brown and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes longer.

4. Fold the potato round in half; cook about 1 minute longer. Slide hash browns onto plate or cutting board, cut into wedges, and serve immediately.

Note To release water from the grated potatoes, place them in a towel and, using two hands, twist towel tightly.

As for the discoloration,

Why do potatoes turn brown when cut? Is there any way to prevent the discoloration?

As many of us find out the hard way, peeled and sliced potatoes take on a brick-red hue when left to sit out for several minutes before cooking. This was of particular concern in our pommes Anna recipe, because the peeled, sliced potatoes must wait to be layered in the skillet. We consulted spud expert Dr. Alfred Bushway, professor of food science at the University of Maine, to find out what causes potatoes to turn color. He explained that with slicing and peeling, potato cells are broken down and the enzyme polyphenol oxidase (PPO) is released. Two major substrates, chlorogenic acid and tyrosine, are also released.

The enzyme and substrates combine with oxygen, and they are then oxidized into a compound called orthoquinone. The orthoquinone quickly polymerizes (a process in which many molecules link up to form a chain of more complex material with different physical properties) and creates the dark pink-red color that we see in the potatoes.

Tossing the potatoes with butter helps limit oxygen exposure and therefore retards discoloration. We had also noted that certain potatoes discolor more rapidly than others. Bushway said that from cultivar to cultivar and over the storage season, potatoes vary in their enzyme and/or substrate concentrations and enzyme activity, so differences in discoloration rates can be expected. In our experience, russet potatoes seem to discolor most rapidly, so if you’re a slow hand, opt for Yukon Golds or white potatoes for any recipe where sliced potatoes are prominently displayed when served.

Another classic approach to preventing browning is to toss the potatoes with grated onion, which test kitchen testing proved. Onions, as it turns out, contain several sulfurous compounds, which not only lend onions their distinct odor, but also act to prevent browning of any cut fruits or vegetables that the onions come into contact with.

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Call the Chefs at Mannys in Minneapolis and ask them to give you their recipe and procedures. I can't think of any place, (even my own kitchen)where you can get a better Hashbrown.

I can tell you that you should use pre-cooked, shredded potatoes and a ton of clarified butter to cook them like Manny's does. Man, they are good.

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I have had best luck with precooked potatoes. First boil potatoes (skin on or off, your choice) in salt water. Let them cool in fridge. Then grate and fry in butter and oil. I use more butter than oil. Salt and pepper to taste.

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I've cooked them with uncooked russetts before, peel and shred and than squeeze all the water you can out of them first, you wouldn't believe how much moisture is locked up in a potato. Fry them up in clarified butter and don't mess with them while they are frying, wait until they are browned real well on the bottom and flip them all in one big mass. Finish them off in the oven.

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Leechbait is right. I was on a quest to cook the perfect hashbrown for a long time. They were never that good until I started getting the water out. After shredding, dry the heck out of those potatoes. Squeezing them and them drying them using a cloth towel works extremely well. Everything else after that is easy.

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I'm inching close to making some progress thanks to everyone's help. I don't think I squeezed enough moisture out. I will go with the towel next time, as I don't think paper-towel took out enough. I'm not satisfied yet, but closing in on it. It's a fun journey getting there, though.

Thanks for all the help!

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Do you guys grate your potatoes by hand or do you use a food processor or blender?

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To keep the potatoes from turning brown. Place them in water. Bring the water to a boil and then shut off the heat. Leave the potatoes in the water and let it cool to room temp. Chill in fridge. They will be partially cooked and still be firm. The heat stops the enzymes from reacting with the air. Grate them and they will last for days. My first job was preping in a kitchen that did their hashbrowns from scratch.

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Yup, after one time you learn that paper towels will not do the trick. Nobody wants to use a real cloth towel, but it's the best way to go.

Gizmoguy's solution is a good one too.

Blackjack - I always grate by hand. It takes only a few minutes, about the same amount of time it takes me to find, prep, use, and then clean a food processor or blender. Graders are really easy to clean too!

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Steam Idaho russet potatoes jacket on. Or boil them. You want the centers cooked just enough that they wont oxidize (turn brown) when shredded. Remember, they keep cooking for a bit before they begin to cool. This is the trick, you don't want to go so far that they get mushy, but you want them far enough. It's something you get a feel for.

Let them cool to room temp. and refridgerate over night. If you don't want skins in your hash browns (I like them) peel them with a paring knife while they're still a little hot.

Shred them on the large holes of a grater.

I like a black steel pan, it's more like a restaurant grill. Clarified butter is good, you can use a little oil with it to raise the smoking point so it doesn't burn so fast. Personally, I use lard. I salt them after they come out of the pan.

At the end of the season, when they've been storing the Russets in cold, the starch changes and they'll brown too fast. Not much can be done about it. IDAHO RUSSETS! Wisconsin russets ain't the same.

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I made a batch that I was very pleased with. It was using what gizmoguy had said. I did the boil process and had them in the fridge. I was very pleased with the results. Thanks for the input everyone.

Another question: Can a guy prep a bunch, let them cool, and then freeze them? Just curious for those times when you don't have prepped spuds. You know, make up an inventory and then take them out of the freezer the night before.

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Sure you can freeze them. That is what oreida does. :-) What the correct technique to use is, is another story.

My experience with freezing potatoes is that it has lots of problems. But your milage may vary.

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