“From the SCCC Kitchen” offers tastes from Schenectady County Community College’s culinary arts program. Today, technical specialist Robert L. Payne II (chef at his family’s The Bears’ Steakhouse in Duanesburg) concludes a four-part series on breakfast favorites. In the skillet today are Hash Brown Potatoes.
Some people call them hash brown potatoes. Others call them home fries.
Chef Robert L. Payne II calls golden brown spuds great comfort food.
“One of the most important things about home fries is really picking out a great potato,” Payne said. “A lot of people will just go to the grocery market and pick up a 5-pound bag of potatoes and not know if they’re russets or waxy potatoes or red potatoes. Any potato will really work, but in my opinion what I think really makes great home fries is the cut. I always do a small dice, a quarter-inch by a quarter-inch by a quarter-inch.”
The uniform cut ensures all potato pieces cook the same way. And the small fries make for a better presentation on the plate.
Choosing russets or another hard potato, such as baby red potatoes, helps the culinary cause because they’re sturdy. “You won’t use a Yukon gold or even white soft potatoes because they’ll turn into mush whatever you do,” Payne said.
The chef said he blanches the potatoes first, lets them dry and makes his cuts. He prefers cooking hash browns with butter and uses a cast-iron skillet.
Some people add onions and peppers. Payne usually considers other flavors, such as chopped parsley and garlic.
“People say ‘garlic with the onions and peppers?’ ” Payne said. “I think it gives them a really great flavor.”
So do a few splashes of Tabasco sauce. People looking for other flavors can add chives, crumbled bacon and cheese.
Hash Brown Potatoes
1 pound russet potatoes, blanched and cooled
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 dash Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chop potatoes into small dice. Place in a sauté pan with the melted butter over medium heat. Gently press down the potatoes to form a circle. Brown until golden. Flip potatoes over, sprinkle with Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper to taste, brown until golden. Serve hot.