For me one of the perfect weekend breakfasts is a plate full of hash browns, eggs, toast and bacon with a side of coffee. I’ve tried so many versions of homemade hash browns but they never seemed to turn out crisp enough, or were never quite cooked through and always seemed to be lacking in flavour. I’ve been dreaming of a hash brown recipe that I could make in bulk and store in the freezer so I could use it as a substitute for the ones you find in the grocery store that have so many other ingredients in it that you wonder how much real food is actually in there.
This is it. I found the recipe. It took the brilliant minds of Cooks Illustrated to figure it out for me. Thank you! This recipe works on so many levels. It makes a large batch so you can make it easily for guests or you can enjoy some now and freeze the rest for later. The potatoes turn out super crispy thanks to being boiled in water, along with baking soda, which quickly breaks down the outside, without cooking in the inside, so that it gets a nice crust while it bakes. The baking pan is also preheated in a screaming hot oven so that the potatoes start cooking as soon as they hit the pan, virtually turning it into a large skillet. I also love that it’s basically hands-free once you get it in the oven, meaning that if you are serving it to guests you can focus on other parts of the meal.
The preparation plus baking time definitely doesn’t produce instantaneous results, this isn’t a quick recipe. But my plan is to make it in batches when I have the time and then storing it in the freezer so that it can be instantaneous later on. I prepared mine with dinner the first round, froze the remainder and served them for breakfast a couple days later. It literally took five minutes for them to be ready from the freezer and they tasted just as good as when I made them fresh. That’s even better than the ones you get in the freezer isle.
Crispy Baked Hash Browns
I don’t peel my potatoes because the skin adds more nutrition and I like the flavour, but feel free to peel the potatoes before dicing if you prefer.
- 3.5 pounds russet potatoes, diced ( 3/4 inch or smaller)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
- 1.5 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- dash of cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola oil (or preferred high-heat oil)
Place a large rimmed baking sheet on an oven rack set to the lowest position. Preheat oven to 500ºF.
In a dutch oven, bring to boil 10 cups of water, over high heat. Add potatoes and baking soda. Bring back to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Drain potatoes and return to pot; place over low heat, shaking the pot occasionally, until any liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in butter, salt, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Stir together until mixed evenly and potatoes are coated with a starchy paste.
Remove baking sheet from oven and drizzle with oil. Spread potatoes in an even layer. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring potatoes every 15 minutes, until potatoes are browned and crispy. Serve immediately.
To Freeze: Allow potatoes to cool fully on baking sheet, transfer to the freezer until frozen. Once frozen toss into a resealable plastic bag. When ready to use, remove as much as needed from freezer bag, cook in a small amount of oil in a pan over medium heat until warmed through (about 5 minutes).
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated Jan/Feb/2012.