There are two secrets to very good, very crispy diner-style hash browns. The first is squeezing the shredded potatoes as dry as possible. The second is a generous — though not gratuitous, mind you — amount of butter. Here is how it's done.
Definitely use a cast-iron skillet to cook your hash browns if you have one. This seems to most closely duplicate a high-powered diner griddle, allowing us to cook at relatively high heat without having to worry about the potatoes sticking to the pan.
If you happen to have been frying bacon just prior to making your hash browns, by all means use the bacon grease instead of the butter in this recipe. The smoky bacon grease will them extra-delicious. Olive oil and neutral canola oil can also be used.
I love everything about diner-style hashbrowns, from the extra-crispy bits that border on burnt to the softer middles that take so well to ketchup. Really, you can't go wrong.
Crispy Diner-Style Hash Browns
Makes 2 large portions, though recipe can be multiplied
What You Need
large (8 to 10 ounces) russet potato
Skillet, preferably cast iron
Peel and Grate the Potato - Line a bowl with a clean dishtowel. Peel the potato and grate it directly into the towel-lined bowl.
Squeeze the Moisture from the Potato - Gather the dishcloth and twist the neck until you form a tight package. Continue twisting the cloth and squishing the potato in your fist until you've squeezed as much liquid as you can from the potato.
Heat the Skillet - Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter and then add the potatoes. Toss the potatoes to coat them with butter and then divide them into portion sizes. Flatten each portion with the back of a spatula to maximize contact with the hot pan.
Cook Until Golden-Brown on Both Sides - Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, flip, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes on the second side. Use your best judgement on when to flip — some of us like more crispy burnt bits than others. Try not too move the hash browns too much during cooking or they'll break apart. That said, don't fret about the bits that break off around the edges.
Serve Immediately - Hash browns wait for no one and are best served hot. Plate the hash browns and serve with ketchup and hot sauce on the side.
Other Cooking Fats - Bacon grease, olive oil, and canola oil can also be used to cook these hash browns.
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(Images: Emma Christensen)