Updated: Dec 27, 2020
The backstory follows the recipe.
About 5 or 6 ounces (by weight) of shredded raw potato OR the same weight of leftover baked or boiled potato that has been sliced or diced.
· Oil for frying the potatoes
· 3 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
· 1 or 2 eggs, warmed up in warm water
· Salt and pepper to taste
1. Pre-heat a skillet that is approximately 7 inches in diameter, then add the oil – enough to completely coat the bottom. Watch for the oil to shimmer – this means it’s hot enough to brown the potatoes (around 300 degrees F).
2. Arrange the shredded potato evenly and loosely in the hot pan. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
3. Flip the potato pancake over when the bottom is nicely browned. You might need to add more oil.
4. Add the onions and egg on top. Cover with the lid slightly ajar so that the egg heats through, but the steam can still escape.
5. Remove from the pan and serve when the second side is nicely browned and the egg is the right doneness. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
More toppings can be added after the eggs are cooked. Here are some suggestions:
Eastern European: Lox, chopped dill, sour cream
Southwest: Salsa, guacamole, diced chili, cheddar, pepper jack cheese
Greek: Diced tomatoes and cucumbers, feta cheese, oregano
Italian: Diced tomatoes, chopped olives, basil, grated cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, asiago, etc.
French: Chèvre, guyère brie, spinach, tarragon, parsley.
Backstory (and a quick grammar lesson):
English is a peculiar language. Often, endings get dropped, making the word technically ungrammatical, but still acceptable because everybody does it. In 1948, H.L. Mencken wrote an essay about this. He was annoyed by the dropped -ed ending from certain words in the food world, such as ice cream and whip cream. He argued that iced cream and whipped cream are the only grammatically acceptable versions, and he exhorted that all restaurant menus should spell these words correctly.
Which brings me to hash browns and today’s recipe. Hash browns – or hashed browns as Mencken would have it -- are an American classic: They’re potatoes that have been cut up and fried, and are served as a side at breakfast with eggs or bacon.
I came up with this recipe because I wanted a gluten-free way of enjoying poached eggs. The traditional way to eat poached eggs is with toast. The toast soaks up the runny yolk and provides a delicious starchy counterpoint to the richness of the egg.
In this version, I have replaced toast with an equally traditional breakfast side dish of hash browns, which have been transformed into a “potato pancake” – also known in some circles as a latke. I cook this in a 7-inch cast iron skillet (that size is easier to flip than larger diameters). The egg is cooked on top as the second side of the potato pancake is cooking.
I use grated raw potato that I run through the shredding disc on my food processor. A box grater or a mandoline also work.
Leftover boiled or baked potatoes can be used instead of shredded raw potatoes. Cooked potatoes don't shred easily, so dicing or slicing them is the way to go.
Here, I have given the simplest version – topped only with egg and green onion. Feel free to change it to your taste and call it what you want. I won’t tell Mencken.