The last time I made breakfast, I tried to make hashbrowns. Hashbrowns are one of my favorite things to eat. Last Thanksgiving, I went Black Friday shopping with Sarah and her sisters. At some point in the morning, I went to McDonald’s to pick up some breakfast for everyone. I bought like five breakfast meals, but the girls only wanted to eat the sandwiches. That left me with five hash browns to eat. I felt like the chubby kid in Billy Madison who was eating everyone’s lunches.
For whatever reason, hash browns have eluded me. This has been the case, even though I have been trying to make them for the last two decades. Granted, two decades ago, I was 11. My idea of cooking was to get eggs, ham, and frozen tater tots, and throw it in the biggest frying pan I could find. It would invariably end up as a big, breakfasty mush. It never turned out how I hoped, but I would cover it in ketchup and watch the timed VCR recording of the previous night’s saturday night live.
I still can’t make hash browns. But I have gotten really good at home fries.
The secret to the home fries is to boil them first. I learned this from watching an episode of In Search of Perfection. I cube the potatoes, put them in a small pot with cold water. I put the lid on, turn the heat on high, and wait for the potatoes to boil. Once they do, I preheat the oven to 400 and I let the potatoes cook in a roiling boil for a couple minutes. After boiling the potatoes, I drain them, put them on to a sheet tray, and sprinkle with garlic powder, pepper, and sometimes paprika or cumin. I then drizzle a little oil on top to make sure the seasonings stick to the potatoes and so that the potatoes don’t stick to the sheet tray.
While the potatoes were baking. I made the rest of our breakfast, which consisted of the usual eggs and turkey bacon. On this particular morning though, we also had the pleasure of some coffee that my dad bought when he was in Bolivia. He gave it to me the last time we were back home. I don’t know why he had it. Presumably, someone told him that Bolivian coffee is really good. But he bought whole beans. And my parents don’t have a coffee grinder. In fact, they don’t even have a coffee maker. They drink instant. They’ve been like that for as long as I can remember.
The Bolivian coffee was really good. Somehow, I thought it would be really unique in a non-tasty way, like the time I accidentally bought coffee with chicory.
After 20 minutes baking in the oven, the potatoes were done. And they came out awesome. If you let them go to 25 minutes, the potatoes get even crisper. They get remarkably and surprisingly crispy on the outside, as if they had been deep fried. But because they boil first, they are like creamy mashed potatoes on the inside. It’s a wonderful combination.
They are no hash browns, but they are a reasonable second best.