I’ve been sorta homesick for Idaho the last couple of days.
So, naturally, I started craving potatoes. Because if I can’t be home, at least my taste buds can be.
Actually, it’s because carbs are a natural pick-me-up, so it makes sense that I’d crave them when I’m in a funk. The fact that potatoes are synonymous with Idaho kinda complicates the matter by making me miss the state more, but whatever. I eat potatoes when I am homesick.
And I really like hash browns. More than a normal person does, I think. It’s a bit of an obsession. But my inner organics-only snob is totally yucked out by those gross, pre-formed things you can buy in the freezer section at the grocery store, with an ingredient list that reads:
“Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Contains One Or More Of The Following: Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Palm Oil, Soybean Oil, Sunflower Oil), Dehydrated Potato, Salt, Potassium Sorbate (To Maintain Freshness), Natural Flavoring, Onion Powder, Disodium Dihydrogen Pyrophosphate (To Promote Color Retention), Dextrose. Allergy Warning: May Contain Traces Of Milk, Eggs, Wheat And Soy. “
OK, so to translate, they contain potatoes, some type of oil but the company can’t be bothered to actually know which one, dehydrated potatoes (because regular weren’t good enough?) salt, more salt, “Natural Flavoring” which could mean anything, onion powder, a chemical that is used to remove hair from pigs and feathers from chickens and clean farm machinery but also neutralizes colors, corn sugar, and the product may or may not also have milk, eggs, wheat and soy. ( ALSO, I like that while Spell Checking this blog entry the ingredients in the store-bought hash browns are so totally foreign that Spell Check is all, “WTF is that supposed to be? Did you mean Ornate? Desmodium?” Exactly.)
That’s way different from my recipe. Spell Check and I were totally cool with all my ingredients. Y’know, because they’re real.
This recipe is a tweaked version from one at allrecipes.com. Makes about nine decent-sized hash brown patties. You can make them and freeze them for later, for all the convenience of the store-bought version, but without the feather-stripping umami.
I hit up the farmers market yesterday and was a little too excited to see an Amish farmer hawking organic potatoes. I’m not going to admit it in court, but my walk may have actually become a slow jog when I spotted him. And I may or may not have knocked over a small child on my way. There’s no video evidence, no one can prove anything.
I talked to the poor guy for about 20 minutes about what kinds of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides he used–and by his reaction I think I may be the first person he’s encountered in rural Kentucky that cared that much about what goes on at his farm. Or my bra was showing. One of the two.
Potatoes are on the Dirty Dozen list because the USDA found 37 different kinds of pesticide residue on a random sampling of conventional grocery-store bought potatoes. GROSS. In this house, we follow The Dirty Dozen like they are the Ten Commandments and I normally buy organic potatoes at the grocery store, when they’re available. But by the time they get there they’re old and only have a day or two of life left. But pulled from the ground that morning and bought locally from a guy with a funky German-Kentucky accent? Awesome. So I bought up a bunch of my favorite little carbs and headed home.
2 russet potatoes (I used 5 organic Yukon Gold potatoes)
1 egg (from our hens–organic and free-range on pasture and laid this morning…and why that’s important)
1/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat, just to continue to sound snobby)
1/2 of a medium onion, diced very small
Kosher Salt to taste
Ground Black Pepper to taste
1 Cup or so of Canola oil (or vegetable…just not olive. Olive will be too heavy and taste gross)
OPTIONAL: grated (or mashed and finely chopped) garlic; finely chopped jalapenos
Wash the potatoes, then shred.Rinse the shredded potatoes, then pat dry with paper towels and put in bowl. Or skip that step and just put them in the bowl after shredding. Not really a big deal.
Make your husband chop up the onion, really small. Add to bowl.
Mash and chop garlic at this point if you’re going to use it. We like garlic–a lot–so we used an entire clove for each patty (9). But you may want to start with just one, two or three for the whole batch.
Add flour, salt, pepper and egg until evenly distributed.
Mix by hand. Go on, get your hands dirty.
Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat (we actually used just medium heat, the medium-high was too hot and burned the onion and garlic in the patties). When oil is sizzling hot, form potato patties (about half an inch thick and 4-6 inches tall or wide, like small pancakes) on top of a spatula, then slide them off the spatula and in to the oil.
Cook until nicely browned on the bottom, then flip over and brown on the other side. It should take at least 5 minutes per side. Make sure your oil isn’t too hot, however, or the onion and garlic will burn.
Remove from pan, and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
UPDATE: My girlfriend, Joan, informed me that I’ve just invented the Latke. Yep. Yep I have. I will take full credit for creating the Latke. This recipe is so kick-ass it traveled back in time and became part of sacred traditions for God’s chosen people. Call it a Latke, call it old-fashioned hash browns, just call it good.