June 3, 2004
If you're perfectly honest with yourself, you'll probably realize that a lot of the things you do are in fact an alibi for something else.
Example? Example : I loved going out for breakfast in the US. I would order eggs, but really, that was just an alibi to get the hashbrowns. Of course, I could have just ordered hashbrowns, but that wouldn't have been quite the same : hashbrowns on their own won't hit the same spot. Their real value is in the fact that they come as a side, as a bonus, which in truth you like better than the main thing.
However much I adore hashbrowns, I'd never tried to make them myself, possibly because I had read it was difficult to keep the patties together, and to get them to cook thoroughly without burning. But on Monday morning (which was a holiday in France too, "La Pentecôte") we woke up late and I felt like eating something brunchy, so I set out to make hashbrowns with the young potatoes we had on hand -- which are your best bet for hashbrowns, as I understand.
They were really quick and easy to make, not to mention fun : squeeze-shaping the patties with your hands while the potato juices stream down your wrists will definitely take you back to your sandbox days, thus reconnecting you with your inner child. Try it, you'll see what I mean. I was also happy to use my Old Bay Seasoning mix, for a perfect and instantaneous flavor kick. They were cooked just right, soft inside (but not mushy) with a golden crust, and nicely crispy at the edges. With the scrambled eggs Maxence whipped up, my brunch yearning was satisfied perfectly.
Variations ideas. This can also be prepared as one big hashbrown and served in wedges, and you can add other things in with the grated potatoes, such as herbs, lardons or bacon bits. You can also make cheese-filled hashbrowns : make thinner patties, and pair them (uncooked) into little sandwiches, with a slice of cheese trapped in the middle : use goat cheese, for instance, or a firm, gruyère-type cheese.
In French, hashbrowns are sometimes referred to as "Pommes Darphin", but I prefer the alternate and lovely name of "Paillassons de Pomme de Terre", which literally translates to "Potato Doormats". Cute, no?
Paillassons de Pomme de Terre
- 12 medium-small potatoes (preferably young, new potatoes)
- 1 onion
- 1 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
- salt, pepper
- vegetable oil
Grate the potatoes and the onion (preferably in a food processor, using the grating blade). Transfer into a colander, and press with a wooden spoon or spatula to squeeze out as much of the juices as you can. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the grated potatoes and onion with the Old Bay Seasoning and generous sprinkles of salt and pepper.
Take a handful of the grated potato mixture, and shape it into a patty between your hands, squeezing hard to drain out yet more liquid. Transfer it onto a plate. Repeat until all of the remaining potato mixture is used up.
Heat some oil in a large non-stick skillet, and cautiously transfer the hashbrowns onto it. Cover the skillet with a lid, and cook for seven to ten minutes over medium-high heat, keeping an eye on them. When the edges start to crisp up and the patties have developped a nice golden crust (lift one cautiously with a spatula to peek underneath), flip them. Cook for another seven to ten minutes, covered, until thoroughly cooked.
Note : you may have to work in batches, in which case keep the first batch of hashbrowns warm in a baking dish in the oven (preheated to 160°C or 320°F) while you prepare the second batch (but not too long, otherwise they'll dry up).
Serve immediately. Alternatively, you could prepare them ahead and reheat in the skillet just before serving, to crisp them up again.
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