Back in the day when I worked at a neighborhood bar and grill, I was the front of the house head brunch person. Although it was somewhat painful to get up early on the weekend, the hash browns and endless coffee pulled me out of bed. I would walk up the giant incline leading to the little restaurant-in-a-house perched atop the hill. I was a dyed-black haired vegetarian back then. So hash browns with sauteed vegetables and pepper jack cheese were my weekend treat. I knew the cook well, so I got giant servings. I can't quite imagine consuming those portions now. But they sure were delicious.
My day consisting of walking in a continuous huge circle. It was always in the same direction too. It always seemed I should do a reverse loop to balance out the clock-wise path. But that would have disrupted everyone else's path too. We had a system to follow.
As I would take my hundredth lap of the day, a peripheral glimpse of the 'ladle' would occur. It would be methodically dunked into the infamous tin, filled with a butter and oil mixture and then drizzled over the griddle filled with potatoes. It was an aspect of the crispy potato request I tried to ignore. For years I have shelved that nagging reason why restaurant potatoes are so much better than home version.
So a few weeks ago I gathered the courage to use butter and oil ad libitum with my hash browns to observe the tipping point of what is necessary for restaurant-level. It proved to be quite rewarding (and filling). So next time you don't feel like waiting in the nail biting, bloodshot-eyed line at your favorite brunch spot, give the home version a whirl. You may be starting your own weekend restaurant.
Restaurant-Style Hash Browns
Yields 2 -3 servings
This is the closest I have gotten to restaurant quality hash browns. The key is to embrace the butter and oil. This is what makes the restaurant hash browns so good. Being patient is also a key factor. This is a 'weekend recipe', if you will. By that I mean it is a little heavy and only suggested to be made occasionally. Serve alongside your favorite omelet.
8 small potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, or more to taste (optional)
Shred potatoes using the shredding blade in a food processor or manually with a box grater. Place shredded potatoes on top of a clean kitchen towel. Gather the towel around the potatoes so you are holding it in such a way that you can wring out the water. Continually twist the towel tightly until as much water is squeezed out as possible. When you open the towel, the potatoes should look significantly drier.
Preheat broiler of your oven.
Melt butter in a cast iron or oven-proof skillet over medium heat; add garlic and potatoes. Season with salt. Press down on potatoes with a spatula so the bottom layer browns; stir occasionally to evenly cook all the potatoes. Add olive oil to the potatoes, about 1/2 tablespoon at a time, to keep them from burning. Keep pressing and stirring for 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes seem done. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Place the skillet in the preheated oven. Broil until cheese is brown and crispy.