Hash Brown Potatoes

My wife Mary Ann has a unique style of cooking. She recognizes only two settings on a stove burner–Off and High. Her default cooking gambit is to put the pan of food on a burner on High, leave the room to do something else, and check back when she smells something burning.

That approach (which I do not recommend) happens to be the perfect technique for cooking hash brown potatoes. Hers are the best hash browns I’ve ever eaten. She wows everybody else with them, too. I can’t duplicate them myself, because my instincts will not allow me to do so. But here’s how it goes.

It’s best to bake the potatoes a day or more in advance (perhaps while you’re baking something else) and refrigerate them. They shred better that way.

  • 5 lbs. medium white potatoes
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 green onions, tender green tops only, finely sliced
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

1. Bake the potatoes, skins on, in the center of a preheated 450-degree oven for 40 minutes. This will be a bit less than the time needed for edible baked potatoes. Cool the potatoes, then refrigerate.

2. When you’re ready to cook, remove the potatoes from the refrigerator and cut in half, but leave the peels on.

3. In a skillet over the highest heat, melt 2 Tbs. butter until it sizzles. Using the big holes on a hand grater, grate the potatoes right into the pan, sprinkling some green onions as you go, until the pan is nearly full. Cook without turning until the bottom appears to be on the verge of burning. Turn (either the whole thing or as much as you can at a time) and cook the same way on the other side.

4. Dump the pan of hash browns into a serving dish, and keep it warm in the oven while you repeat the process for the rest of the potatoes. Or you can stop right there if that’s enough for the meal involved. The rest of the potatoes can be made into hash browns on another occasion.

Serves eight to twelve.

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