i know i've shared that one of lucy's favorite breakfast foods is a hash brown patty. not the healthiest thing in the world, but she eats lots of fruits and veggies throughout the day, so i haven't been too concerned with the less-than-healthy aspect of this favored food. what did concern me, however, was when i flipped over the box one day to read the ingredients label. i was expecting to see potatoes, oil, and salt. and yes, they were all there--along with about 15 other ingredients. gross.
after getting over my mommy guilt, i set about searching how to make our own freezer hash browns, but didn't really find what i was looking for. so i set about figuring it out myself. and by gosh, i think i did it. simply.
this is less of a recipe and more of a method--mainly because i use however many potatoes we have on hand. the key is to half-cook your potatoes by boiling--cooking any further will result in mashed potato patties (which are good, but, as lucy pointed out to me very seriously one morning, "dat not hash browns.")
so gather up a good bunch of potatoes (we use organic russets or organic reds, but any kind will do). peel and set to boil in a big pot. keep a semi-close watch--when a fork can be poked into the potatoes with a fair bit of effort, they're probably done. wait for them to cool a bit, then grate them with either a cheese grater or a food processor with grating attachment (i much prefer the latter).
if you have cooked them correctly, your potatoes will be gummy and weird. good job. now douse liberally with the vegetable oil of your choosing--we use organic olive oil. use your hands to incorporate the oil into all of the potatoes so they're no longer starchy-sticky to the touch.
if you are cooking with a small person on your hip, you will probably spill your olive oil, as your free hand (which has been massaging the potatoes with oil) is super-slippery.
sprinkle very liberally with salt. salt is a personal issue--i try to use as little as possible since i don't think toddlers (or any of us, really) benefit from excess sodium. but potatoes really do taste better with lots of salt. sprinkle, then nibble, than sprinkle, then nibble until they taste right to you.
add some cracked black pepper, and mix again until everything seems really well-incorporated. now have a taste. does it taste like a cold, half-cooked hash brown should? okay, than you are on the right track.
form into patties about the size of your palm. try to get them around 1/4" - 1/2" thick--you want them to be thin enough that they'll cook through in the pan. freeze on a cookie sheet--if you've got more patties than space, separate stacks with a layer of parchment paper. freeze overnight, then store in a container.when you want your fabulous, homemade hash browns, simply pop one out of the freezer and microwave to defrost (about a minute). alternatively, you thinking-ahead types could pull a couple out at night and let them defrost in the fridge. pan-fry with a bit of olive oil till the outsides and edges are nice & crispy.
there you have it. junky food made slightly less junky. enjoy!