Editor’s Note: When we hunger for clever twists on the classics we grew up with, we take to these savvy restaurants, where everything old is newfangled again. Say hello to the Best New Comfort Foods.
A gifted chef can make a dish look simple when it is anything but. Case in point: the skillet-formed hash browns at Late Harvest Kitchen, which arrive at the table (a dinnertime side option not wasted on breakfast) as if the diner gods had dropped them from a heavenly spatula. The walnut-brown crust—nearly scientific in the consistency of its color and crunch—encases shredded potatoes cooked to the tenderest fluff of warm, starchy goodness. Anyone who has ever tried to re-create this dish at home, only to wind up with a belligerent puck of potatoes that is somehow both burnt and raw, will appreciate that chef-owner Ryan Nelson—who tops his version with sour cream, chopped scallions, and massive chunks of bacon—is willing to share his tips for creating the perfect hash brown.
1) Tightly pack a 7-inch or similarly sized saute pan full of shredded potatoes. This will allow the hash browns to hold their shape.
2) Use clarified butter. Regular butter will burn. Don’t even bother making these if you’re not going to use clarified butter.
3) If you’re uncomfortable flipping the hash browns, use another saute pan to cap the first pan and overturn the potatoes into the second pan.
4) Once the potatoes are flipped, place the saute pan in a 350-degree oven for 5–7 minutes. This allows for the potatoes to be golden brown on the outside and cooked through on the inside.
5) When we make these for ourselves, we add shredded cheese and hot sauce to the middle of the potatoes. It’s great!
This article appeared in the January 2014 issue.