Hashbrowns are an incredibly popular American breakfast food. They come in many varieties, but the term essentially refers to a potato patty that is browned on the outside. I doubt there is a diner in the United States where hashbrowns can't be found on the breakfast menu. They are so ubiquitous that preparing them should be common knowledge. Yet if you've ever tried to make hashbrowns from raw potatoes, you may have been left wondering how restaurants do it.
The Secret of Hashbrowns
What is not obvious is that hashbrowns can not be made simply by grating potatoes and frying them up. The potatoes must be softened first. This takes some advance prep work. Shredding the potatoes and leaving them soaking in water overnight works well (even better if you cook them a little bit). Restaurants often use leftover potatoes from the previous night's dinner. Rather than doing all this at home, I find you can achieve equal results with pre-packaged hashbrowns from the supermarket. Just remember to get ones that have never been frozen as they taste far superior.
The other factor is that restaurants have big grills where they can dump a pile of waterlogged potatoes without sucking all the heat out of the cooking surface. The water helps steam the hashbrowns and cook them to a better interior texture. Duplicating a commercial stove at home is impossible, but you can give yourself a bit more flexibility by using a thick cast iron griddle or skillet. This will let you work with wetter potatoes as well as allow more fine tuning of the temperature.
Now that you've got your potatoes and cast iron cookware, you are ready to woo your family with the best of breakfasts in bed. Heat up your griddle to medium-high heat and spread a thin later of cooking oil over the burner area. Put about half the amount of potatoes you want down on the oil, add any seasonings or other ingredients (onions & peppers for instance), then cover with the rest of the potatoes. Use your spatula to squish the edges in to form a nice patty. Dribble a medium amount of oil over the top to help it cook after flipping.
Sit back and let it cook for 5 to 10 minutes while making sure the temperature doesn't get too hot. When the bottom is browned satisfactorily, flip and cook another 3-6 minutes. Serve with eggs, toast, bacon, sausages or any other greasy American fare and enjoy!