Josh Ozersky's Hash Browns
- Salted Butter
- Kosher Salt
- Box Grater
My hash brown recipe isn’t really ideal for a last meal, if only because it doesn’t produce much in the way of hash browns. A valedictory blowout would, on the face of it, seem to call for gross feeding, a grand buffet, a conscienceless debauch that inspires only a longing for oblivion after the last swallow. These hash browns are austere and exquisite, something from a tasting menu at the diner of the gods. But that’s only if you are making them by yourself. Since the My Last Supper premise posits endless resources, I would have dozens of cooks preparing this dish in succession, so that the butter-soaked potato snowflake appears again and again, replenished constantly by another coming just out of the pan. The recipe itself couldn’t be simpler.
- Take a big pan, sizzle some salted butter in it, and just when the foaming subsides, coarsely grate an unpeeled potato over it. The potato, unmolested will still have all its starchy essence and the flavor that conveys. Do it sparingly, so that you see as much pan as potato; don’t pile it up anywhere. I use a 12″ skillet and rarely do more than half a medium potato at a time.
- Once the potato hits the pan, salt it. The reason you want there to be so much space is to give the steam somewhere to go. Potatoes need to shrink and shrivel, concentrating their taste down and replacing their water with precious fat. They can’t do that if they’re being jammed in next to each other like the crowd at a Motorhead concert. Give them room and let them bind with each other as the starch comes out. Amazingly, the shreds will form a latticework snowflake of starch, butter and salt.
- Once this happens, slide it out of the pan in one motion onto a plate. Then flip, salt lightly again and cook for another 15-20 seconds. Then eat!
- Repeat as necessary.