Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stupendous Hash Browns

Saturday Breakfast

Last weekend I read this article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. I almost always enjoy their food articles and recipes, but I don't often attempt any of the recipes myself. A lot of them are meat-centric. A lot of them are complicated. Some of them are both. This one for hash browns, though, intrigued me. Probably because any hash browns I've attempted to make in the past were as bad as the ones he describes in the article. Burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. Greasy. Overly salty. Falling apart. Sticking to the pan.

I was lukewarm about the recipe, though, because the most important ingredient seemed to be clarified butter. I had no idea if there was a vegan alternative for clarified butter. I kind of forgot about the whole thing. Until Saturday.

Wanting to oust myself from the rut of our usual Saturday home fries, I fished last week's magazine out of the recycling box and decided to give it a go. A quick internet search for vegan clarified butter possibilities informed me that in fact it was possible to clarify vegan margarine. One does so using the same method used with regular butter. Heat the margarine over low heat until it starts to bubble. Skim the frothy layer off the top until most of it is gone, then pour the butter through a fine sieve. Done. now you're ready to make hash browns.

I have to say that while this recipe had more steps and was much more complicated than my usual oven fries, it was absolutely worth it. I can't wait to make these again. They are as good as any restaurant hash browns I've ever had and I truly feel like I've cracked the code when it comes to making them. A great culinary skill to have. I can't wait to invite people over for breakfast.

Stupendous Hashbrowns

Stupendous Hash Browns
(adapted from The New York Times Sunday Magazine)

4-5 medium sized yukon gold potatoes
5 tbsp clarified margarine (to get 5, start with 7 tbsp of regular margarine, then do the clarifying as explained above)
salt and pepper to taste

Peel potatoes place them in a pot of cold water.

Bring pot to a boil and cook potatoes until you can pierce them with a skewer or toothpick. Check frequently to avoid over cooking.

Drain potatoes and put them in a bowl in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Grate potatoes into a large bowl using the large side of a box grater.

Season with a bit of salt and pepper.

Add three tablespoons of clarified margarine to a cast iron pan on medium-high heat.

Add potatoes to pan, smushing them down so they are packed into the bottom of the pan.

Let them cook for about fifteen minutes.

If your friend Pam drops by and you are tempted to forget about the potatoes and keep talking to her about the dogs she's adopted, don't do that. Pay attention to your potatoes. Even though Pam is awesome.

After fifteen minutes you'll need to flip your big circle of hash browns. The easiest way to do this is to cover the pan with either a thick, flat plate or a cutting board and just flip whole this over, keeping the pan up against the plate or cutting board. Then, do the same move with a plate over the hash browns. Now you have your uncooked side facing upwards and the cooked side down on the plate.

Add the remaining butter to the pan.

Carefully flip your has browns off the plate, back into the pan. The uncooked side should be facing down, onto the hot, buttery surface of the pan.

Cook for ten minutes.

Flip hash browns back out onto the cutting board and let cool for five minutes. Slice and eat.

Could serve four people but it was so good the two of us at the whole thing.

Some Notes:

-i recently read Molly Wizenberg's book A Homemade Life and in her cooking tips she suggests getting an oven thermometer so you'll know exactly what temperature your oven is. Especially if, like me, you're working with an oven that is past its prime. Genius! The idea of an oven thermometer had never occurred to me. I found one at Canadian Tire for $8 and put it in my oven immediately. Accurate baking for all!

-The aforementioned schnauzer went back from whence she came on Saturday and our house is relatively peaceful once again. Our dogs are un-bothered, cats are free to wander, and no one is pooping on my stairs.

-My Dad had a birthday this past weekend. Happy Birthday, Dad! I won't tell you how old he is, but suffice to say in my Mom's card for him she wrote that she would indeed still need and feed him. My dad still looks young and is very active, so I don't think he minds celebrating a birthday. And he seemed to like the giant Jamie Oliver cookbook we got him.


This Time Last Year: The Famous Giant Soup!


lea said...

Those look fantastic! I can't wait to make them!

HayMarket8 said...

Um....OK...that looks fantastic! It looks like something I would have gotten at a dinner as a kid (that is a good thing).

The Voracious Vegan said...

I am making these FOR SURE! They look delicious. I love hashbrowns any which way and I make them all the time, but I've never made them like this. I can't wait, shopping for potatoes tomorrow. Thanks!

Trinity (of haiku tofu) said...

I read that article in the paper last weekend! I love when their food articles are about veggie foods! Your hashbrowns look stupendous!

Parasol said...

Wow, love the look of those! I think I'll have an imaginary taste.


The Ordinary Vegetarian said...

A big way to go on this one!

T said...

I love finding new techniques for stuff you make all the time but screw up. Next they should tackle how to make perfect rice without a rice cooker.

Kate said...

I saw the article too and it totally inspired me (and spoke to my horrendous adventures in hashbrownery)! I do eat butter, and 'clarify butter' is literally at the top of my kitchen list; what a keen idea to look up clarifying vegan margarine.

Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

Thanks everyone! And let me assure you that they were as delicious as they look. And now we all have a nice long weekend coming up with lots of time to make hash browns. If you try them and it works, do let me know!


XUP said...

What exactly is the advantage to clarified butter or margarine? How does the butter/margarine's propertied differ and what does that mean in cooking? I've never really understood that.

Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

It explains it pretty well in the article if you click through and have a look. It's all about temperature, apparently.

Megan said...

yum!! Those look so good and I will be trying them very very soon!

Kat said...

I would like these for my birthday breakfast. :-) Yummmmmmm.

fresh365 said...

I know what I am having for bkfst this weekend! Hash browns are my favorite and these look delicious!

Cindy said...

These last few months I've been enjoying the baked-in-a-muffin-pan hash browns in Vegan Brunch. This recipe looks a little more labour-intensive (yes, I'm intimidated by the flipping) but you're persuading me that they are probably worth the effort...!

jd said...

Oooo... that looks like absolute hash brown heaven. I'm in!

michelle.belle. said...

ps. I like to add a little grated onion and garlic powder or fresh minced cooked in a little olive oil, for a savory flavor too.(all to taste). you can also sneak in some zucchini this time of year. Thanks for your posts! Love your recipes.

Urban Girl said...

I do appreciate a good hash brown recipe! definitely will have to try this weekend.

I read Molly's Homemade Life also - really enjoyed it - it got me trying radishes on toast and slow roasted tomatoes.... yum!!