Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hot potato, hot potato!

The painters have been here this week and this has meant that I have had to get up extra early on my holidays. I've tried to use this to my advantage, scheduling in some quality cooking time.

As the painters departed yesterday morning, I started on my third Hash Brown trial. Three trials- I don't think it has ever taken me this long to find a recipe that was just right and could be created and consumed by a group of inexperienced early adolescents in a time limit of 60mins - oh and would be palettable to their at times, inexperienced taste buds.

The first trial was actually for a recipe titled 'Hash Browns' and involved chopping cooked and peeled potatoes finely and mixing these with parsley and finely chopped onions. You then had to put these into egg rings to cook in a heated non-stick frying pan. What was the result - a crumbled mess with some brown bits and plenty of raw onion. As much as I love the triple tested cookbooks of a certain famous Australian magazine - this recipe was disasterous.

There is no photo - no one should ever have to see a kitchen disaster!

The second trial was for a recipe called 'Potato Cakes' from the same cookbook as the 'Hash Browns'. Now, considering the disasterous result of the first recipe trial, I commenced this one with trepidation. I shouldn't have been worried. The combination of crispy fried bacon and finely chopped shallots mixed with creamy mashed potato and sour cream was excellent. Even rolling the cakes in flour wasn't too bad. The batch fried in the pan had a beautiful crisp exterior and a creamy soft interior and were delicious - although I wonder if using crumbs next time would be even nicer.  The batch I sprayed with oil and oven baked on baking paper were not so nice though - they ended up with a chewy rather than crispy crust. So why after a great result in the pan, would I not use this recipe for my students - time! Even with the modern technology of the microwave, getting this recipe prepared, cooked and consumed as part of a group breakfast excercise would be near impossible for them.

The photo - well I enjoyed them so much I forgot to take one!

So, trial number three. How did this one come about? Well, I was flipping through my potato cookbook (yes, I love potatoes enough to have a whole, dedicated potato cookbook) looking the Rosti recipe (which was to be the third trial) and stumbled across one titled potato pancakes and I thought - why not! It's similar to the Rosti  recipe, but it includes some additional ingredients which will introduce some more flavours. So, I set to work - grating potato and onion in the food processer is really easy (and I think the boys will find this fun). Then all that was required was to put the potato and onion onto some chux cloth and squeeze it out (great workout for the forearms there). This then went into the bowl and I added a little flour, a generous spoonful of sour cream, a lightly beaten egg and mixed it all together with a wooden spoon and the mix was done. The original recipe required the egg to be seperated and the white beaten to stiff peaks before folding into the potato mixture, but for my charges, that wasn't going to happen quickly, so I opted to change this to the basic method mentioned above. Then all that was required was to drop generous spoonfuls of the mixture into a heated frypan with enough hot vegetable oil and butter to cover the base. What was the result you ask? Beautiful, golden, 'hash browns' that were soft on the inside and crisp on the outside. Any problems - yes! They were so delicious that I forgot to take a photo, therefore I will have to *force* myself  to make another batch to capture a photo to include in this blog post.

I have put the recipe below, just in case you want to give it a go. I used Dutch Cream potatoes, but I think it would work with good old Sebago's too.

Hash Browns
450g potatoes, peeled and grated
1/2 onion finely chopped / grated
1 tbs chives, chopped (optional)
2 tbs sour cream
1 tbs plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten (you may need another if the mixture is not binding together well after mixing)
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil and butter for frying
  1. Grate potato and onion using a food processor (if you have one), otherwise grate the potato using a grater and finely chop the onion.
  2. Place grated ingredients onto a large clean piece of chux, gather up the ends and squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible.
  3. Remove grated ingredients from chux and place in a mixing bowl with chives, sour cream, plain flour and lightly beaten egg, salt and pepper. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
  4. Heat enough oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan to cover the base.
  5. Drop large tablespoonfuls of mixture into the pan and press down with an egg lifter.
  6. Cook for 1 1/2 - 2mins on each side or until golden.
Makes about 10

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