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Hash browns or home fries? I love both, but I confess a definite partiality for hash browns, which I define as grated potatoes formed into cakes and fried. (Home fries, on the other hand, are diced potatoes.) Either preparation can include onion, and home fries often include peppers. But the hash brown is the simpler of the two, the pure essence of potato. There’s something about the contrast between the two crispy outer surfaces and the soft, luscious interior that makes hash browns unique.

hash browns 2

Hash browns and veggie sausage.

I used to consider hash browns at home a time-consuming and difficult task. I might manage to produce a crispy golden crust, but the inside would still be raw. The secret turned out to be the microwave oven. Now I make them when I’m having a fried egg or sausage anyway, and I have an extra five minutes to grate two potatoes.

Hash Browns for Two

  1. Grate two medium potatoes, skin and all. You can toss them in cold water to keep them from oxidizing, but I usually don’t bother.
  2. Drain (if using water). Whether you used water or not, gather those tatties in your hands and squeeze them as hard as you can to get all the moisture out. Pat dry. Put in a bowl and mix in some olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Microwave for two minutes or until you scent the inimitable, unmistakable aroma of the potatoes cooking. They will stick together a bit when they are ready. Heat the pan with some olive oil.
  4. Dump into the hot frying pan and flatten with the spatula until they are a half-inch thick. Fry (4-5 minutes) until the bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook some more.
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The intermediate step: microwave them.

These are a LOT less fatty than restaurant hash browns, and they don’t have the dextrose and chemicals found in the frozen variety.