It’s not entirely healthy or sane, but I can fiddle with a recipe for years before finally getting it out the door. What is done? What is ready? Aren’t we all works in progress, forging paths to even more greatness? Sometimes it’s obvious when a recipe is ready to laminate and tuck in our forever files; I love those days. Sometimes, the longer I leave it, the more it metamorphosizes. What I’m trying to say is that in 2020, this was a tater tot recipe. In 2021, it became a giant tot, i.e. a thick hash brown patty, and also gluten-free. In 2022, because I’m so attached to the Trader Joe’s version stashed in my freezer and wanted these more like that, it became thinner.
The year is now 2023. Books have been published. Regimes have changed. Children have entered and nearly completed middle school, gray hairs have sprung, betraying, and I believe — I mean, I’m absolutely utterly certain — that this is the final iteration of what I consider to be the perfect homemade hash brown patty: crisp, as fuss-free as possible, and my absolutely favorite raft for an egg, or the base of a salad-y lunchtime avocado toast. The only thing I forgot to do is test it in an air-fryer but I’m going to send this off regardless, before we blink and it’s 2024, and trust that someone will report back in the comments below about how it went. Deal?
* Signed cookbook: Want to buy a signed cookbook as a Mother’s Day gift for yourself or someone else? While the shipping deadlines have passed, both Strand Bookstore and Books Are Magic have copies of Smitten Kitchen Keepers signed by me this week.
* Cookbook giveaway! My publishers are giving away five sets of my three cookbooks in celebration of Mother’s Day — winners can send the gift to anyone you’d like. This sweepstakes is available to U.S. residents only (these are FTC rules; we do not mean to exclude!). The deadline to enter 11:59pm (ET) on May 1, so hurry!
* Event: While book tour events have otherwise slowed down, I will be in New Jersey at the Montclair Literary Festival on Saturday, May 6th.
6 months ago: Green Angel Hair with Garlic Butter
1 year ago: Snacky Asparagus
2 year agos: Spring Asparagus Galette
3 years ago: Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Cabbage
4 years ago: Cannelli Aglio e Olio
5 year ago: Fig Newtons and Cripsy Tofu Pad Thai
6 years ago: Granola Bark
7 years ago: Caramelized Brown Sugar Oranges with Yogurt and Potato Pizza, Even Better
8 years ago: Why You Should Always Toast Your Nuts (Please!) and Obsessively Good Avocado-Cucumber Salad
9 years ago: Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons and Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms
10 years ago: Spinach and Smashed Egg Toast and Bee Sting Cake
11 years ago: Over-the-Top Mushroom Quiche and Banana Bread Crepe Cake with Butterscotch
12 years ago: Blackberry and Coconut Macaroon Tart
13 years ago: Baked Kale Chips and Almond Macaroon Torte with Chocolate Frosting
14 years ago: Artichoke-Olive Crostini and Chocolate Caramel Crackers
15 years ago: Spring Panzanella and Lemon Yogurt Anything Cake
16 years ago: Arborio Rice Pudding and Gnocchi with a Grater
Hash Brown Patties
- 1 pound russet potato(es), peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 tablespoon potato starch
- Neutral, high-heat oil for frying
Form the hash brown mixture: Chop the potatoes into small bits, about the size of peas. In a bowl, combine with starch and season to taste — I call for salt but you can add pepper or any other seasonings you like in your hash browns at this point.
Shape the patties: Transfer back to the counter and knead in on the cutting board a few times until you can shape it into a big, thick round. Divide it into 4 wedges for the generously-sized patties you see here, or 6 for smaller ones. Use your hands to form each wedge into a round, and then flatten it about 1/2-inch-thick and form shape you want against the board — either a round patty or you can nudge it into more of a rounded rectangle, as I do here. Repeat with remaining wedges.
Fry the patties: Heat a medium-sized, heavy frying pan over high heat with enough oil to go most of the way up the sides of the patties. [In my photo, I’ve fully submerged them in oil, i.e. deep-frying them, but shallow-frying will work too.] When the oil reaches 350°F to 360°F, or a crumble of potato immediately sizzles and begins to darkens in the pan, use a thin spatula to transfer the first patty from the board, lowering it slowly in the oil. Fry until medium brown underneath, 1 to 2 minutes, spooning oil over the top of the patty for even color. Carefully turn it over and fry until the second side of the patty is also nicely browned, another 1 to 2 minutes. Lift out of the oil, shaking excess droplets back into the pan, and transfer to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle immediately with salt.
Repeat with remaining patties. If your pan is big enough, go ahead and fry two at a time. [I use a smaller one so I need less oil.]
To finish: Eat right away, as is, or topped with a fried egg or salad-y avocado toast and a soft-cooked egg, as shown above. Leftover patties can be frozen. From the freezer, reheat on a tray in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes, flipping once. From the fridge, 10 to 15 minutes should be sufficient.
A few questions, pre-answered:
- The Russet is the best potato choice here; we need its floury lightness to give us that fluffy tot texture and great binding.
- I buy a bag of potato starch approximately once every four years from Bob’s Red Mill. It will not go bad. I use it for latkes, too. It’s also phenomenal on Japanese fried chicken (karaage) but that post for another time. If you do not or do not wish to buy have potato starch, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour will work, too.
- Frying oil: My favorite for savory shallow- and deep-frying is peanut oil, but of course this will not work for everyone, given how common peanut allergies are. Any neutral, high heat vegetable or canola oil will work here. The bottle you buy will make it clear it works at higher heats for frying [or have a picture of fried chicken on it]; if not, choose a different one.
- Yes, you can reuse your frying oil. I prefer to do this when what I’ve fried has no additional (garlic, onion, or spice) flavors, such as here because it smells neutral later. I made the Easiest French Fries two months ago and strained the leftover oil, removing any crumbs, and poured it back into the bottles it came from once cool. It’s been in the fridge since and I used some here; it was as perfect as the first day. You can also freeze leftover oil.
- No, I haven’t tried this in an air fryer yet but I suspect someone will soon and I’ll point you to these comments as they emerge.