Hash browns are a breakfast staple and for good reason: they're simple, salty, and crispy, and so delicious that you can easily down several servings of them in one sitting. Basically, they're the French fries of breakfast.
Despite their simplicity, hash browns can be difficult to make. I've tried the usual methods: soaking the shredded potatoes in water for an hour (then salad-spinning them), using salt to draw out the liquid before cooking them, and using a spatula or another pan to weigh down the potatoes to form a dense patty of potato goodness.
Finally, I found out that it doesn't need to be that hard. The best hash browns are incredibly easy to make and only take five minutes. Here's the secret.
While your pain is heating up, use a box grater or a large cheese grater to shred a potato (any kind of potato will work). If you're using a 12-inch pan, you'll need about one-third of a large potato, or one-half of a medium-sized potato (though making multiple batches is highly recommended).
As soon as you're done grating the potato, immediately move on to Step 2. You don't want the potato to oxidize too much and turn brown.
Once the butter begins to bubble in your pan, sparsely drop the potatoes in. You want to keep it to one thin layer of potatoes, rather than a thick pancake of them, and you don't want the entire pan covered.
The potatoes should look like a spider web, or like latticework. By allowing space between the pieces of potato, each individual shred of potato is able to crisp up, and as they crisp up they'll stick together.
Liberally sprinkle salt on the potatoes, which will both season them and pull out the water (thus making them crispier). Cook the potatoes on this side until they start to turn dark brown on the edges.
After the potatoes have started to brown on one side, flip them with a spatula and cook them for a few more minutes on the other side. If they start to smoke, add a touch more butter.
Once they've browned on both sides, remove them from the pan and eat them—but wait until they've cooled down a bit—if you can.
Every breakfast is better with hash browns. Crunchy, buttery, and chewy—they're the perfect side dish with sunny-side up eggs, sausages or, you know, a fork. And with this quick and easy hack, you can make sure that every breakfast has them on the plate.