The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Pantry Raiding Leads to Hash Browns for Lunch

By Caroline Clough in Food on Aug 31, 2007 7:10PM

2007_august_chicagoist_hash.jpgChicagoist has been thinking a lot lately about our pantry and what makes it a good one. Often we go into it and stare at its shelves in awe of all the possible things we could make without having to leave our house for ingredients. For us there are a number of things we consider absolute necessities; among them are: cans of black olives (midnight snack or easy finger food), canned tomatoes (tomato sauce at a moment's notice), flour (you never know when you'll want to make a cake, cookies, gravy, bread or, well, so many other things), sugar, salt, chunk light tuna in water, canned black beans, pasta. Oh my, we could go on and on ... but we won't, though we would love to hear what you consider essential in your own cabinets. This past week we didn't quite get to the grocery store and had to dip into the pantry's stock numerous times. One thing we made, and quite enjoyed, involved another can't-do-without item: potatoes. The versatile tuber is a must for anyone who enjoys cooking. It especially comes in handy when you're craving a carbohydrate fix. You can mash 'em, fry 'em, bake 'em or boil 'em and they won't let you down. This time around we decided that we wanted to turn our small Yukon and red potatoes into hash browns. And that's exactly what we did. This recipe is perfect for when you don't have a lot of time to cook or shop, and it's extremely simple.

This is a no-frills recipe that could easily be dressed up with herbs, additional vegetables or meat. We didn't choose to dress it up because the point, to us, was to keep it simple. Not every meal in life has to be a gourmet masterpiece, but they should all taste good. Though hash browns are traditionally paired with eggs at breakfast time, you could easily serve this recipe for lunch or dinner as a side dish.

What You Need:

2 1/2-3 cups grated Yukon Gold and red potatoes (we had the mini varieties on hand, but it may be easier for you to grate a larger potato)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cheese grater (or food processor with grating blade)
1 skillet
1 spatula

What You Do:

1. Grate your potatoes into a large bowl. We used the larger-sized holes.

2. In the bowl add one teaspoon olive oil, the garlic, salt and pepper. Stir well.

3. Put the remaining olive oil (or as much as you need to coat the bottom of your skillet) in the skillet and turn the burner to medium.

4. Once the skillet has heated up, put the potatoes in it. Spread them so they are a uniform depth and covering the entire surface.

5. This was the hard part for us: let the potatoes sit for 7-10 minutes. You want them to get crispy, and this is the best way. The first time we made this, we were afraid that we were going to burn the potatoes. We were constantly flipping and re-flipping and generally interfering with the potatoes' ability to do their own thing. As long as your burner is on medium (or just a little higher), everything should be fine.

7. Once the potatoes have sat for their 7-10 minutes, flip those suckers, and do the same thing for the other side. The face-up potatoes should be golden brown and a bit stiff.

8. Depending on how crispy (or non-crispy) you like your hash browns, continue to flip (though not with ten minute intervals) until they reach your desired color and feel. We flipped our potatoes three times, and as you can see, we had crispy brown parts, but we also had softer bits as well.

That's it. It's easy peasy.

Just a few possible frills:

1. Chopped onions
2. Bacon
3. Green and red peppers
4. Cheese (we actually sprinkled a little goat's cheese in ours)