More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Hash Browns
Hmmm... After years of experimenting (read: Whoops!), I think I can safely give you an idea on how to come up with *good* Hash Browns.
I'm going to start with raw potatoes. They make the best HBs. Diners and real "cook-it-on-site" restaurants do it this way. Peel and prep the spuds however you like for the final product. ie. Hash Browns will be diced, Home Fries can be sliced as thin as potato chips. Grated ones I have seen with many names, but the most common was Latkes <G>. (The names are not really important, pick the *type* you like. The name can vary from cook to cook.)
Next for the real diner type spud, parboil them THE NIGHT BEFORE! They should be dropped into rapidly boiling water, then returned to a boil. By the time the water has gotten back to a "rolling" boil, they should be done. Stir 'em a couple times and test one or two. The "crunch" of fresh spuds should be all gone, but they can't be mushy. Then, drain them completely and run COLD water over them until they are no longer warm. If you fail to do this, the internal heat of the spuds will continue to cook them. You want to do that yourself, in the skillet.
NOTE: If using grated or very thinly sliced potatoes, drain and rinse before the water returns to a full boil. These cook *very* quickly.
Now, after you've cooled everything down under the faucet, drain, and store in a sealed container in the fridge. Refrigerate overnight.
Next morning, pull out the amount of spuds you'll need, about 1 medium potato per person. (Or 1 large handful) Then, pre-heat a skillet or griddle until a drop of water "dances". Add your butter/margarine/oil. The amount is up to you and the quantity you're cooking. You will need enough to lightly coat all the spuds. Keep your heat around a "medium" temp.
Remember, grills in diners are at a constant temp all day long. You need even heat for best results. Do not use a "Shedd-spread" type whipped butter substitute. They don't fry well.
Type of pan? Use heavy cast-iron or aluminum. You are going to be dropping cold spuds into hot oil and thin pans will cool off rapidly, requiring extra cooking time to re-heat the pan.
Drop the spuds into the oil and flip constantly until all of them are coated with b/m/o. Press down to ensure even heating and place a flat pot lid over the potatoes until they are ready to turn the first time. Brown to your desired preference. Turn once and when browned on the other side, use your spatula to break them loose from the pan and slide onto a serving plate. Enjoy.
(If using frozen spuds, such as Ore-Ida, thaw them first. They are already partially cooked and will give you "crisp on the outside, mush on the inside" if used frozen rock-solid)
Now, aren't you sorry you asked? <BG>