Sometimes it’s the simplest foods which require the most testing and adjusting and refining to get them ‘just so’. By ‘just so’, I mean perceptually perfect. The more iconic the food is, the more demanding of attention to detail and refinement the recipe becomes. My pizza crust was two years in development. My poppyseed filling went through twenty iterations before it emerged as a modern masterpiece of Eastern European style baking. Which brings me to Operation Hash Browns.
Grated raw potatoes are often recommended for making fast, off-the-cuff hash browns. Boiled whole potates are frequently the key ingredient in hash brown recipes. Leftover baked potatoes are cited in certain sources as great for hash browns. I have tried all of these variations in potato preparation when getting hash browns to the table. They may work for other people, but none of those options left me satisfied.
America’s Test Kitchen and The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook have both put a lot of time and thought into their iterations.
But we like our peppers here. Beyond that, I think peppers belong in hash browns. They just do.
My present version of hash browns is delicious by itself. And it’s even better with my Antique Catsup on it. I have to say, the clove volume in the catsup has calmed down enough that I like the product very much, though I’m still determined to fine-tune it. But enough about that, here’s my perfected hash browns recipe. It scales beautifully. Don’t be afraid to make the right amount for the people you’re feeding.
2 TBSP bacon grease OR 1 1/2 TBSP unrefined peanut oil (or the oil slick on the top of your pnb jar) AND 1 1/2 tsp dark sesame oil (need I say the spicy kind is lovely if your palate will tolerate it)
1 small onion
1 red bell pepper, or several banana peppers or Hungarian wax peppers, or a handful of cherry bomb peppers
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, Kennebec and Yukon Gold are nice
1/2 tsp of paprika, smoky paprika or (in a pinch) chili seasoning
salt and pepper
Scrub, peel (or not) and cut the potatoes into dice. Put them in a sauce pan, cover them with water by half an inch, put the lid on and bring them up to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let them cook for ten minutes. In a heavy bottomed frying pan, seasoned cast iron is ideal, heat your oil or drippings. Chop your onions small and put them in the frying pan. Seed and devein your peppers before cutting them small (or don’t, if you like the heat and you’re not using a bell pepper). Add the peppers to the pan with the onions. Turn the heat to medium low.
Drain the potatoes (save the water for Potato Water Biscuits) and add them to the frying pan. Let the hash browns cook for seven to ten minutes. Turn them with a spatula, there should be some nice, crispy crust formed. Let the hash browns cook for another five minutes. Breakfast is officially ready!