My dad was completely obsessed in his search for a perfectly-crispy hash brown. It was perhaps the most important metric by which he measured a breakfast place; the best diner breakfast in the world could be ruined by a side of wet, soggy, greasy hash browns. For him, such lazy inattention to detail was taken as personal affront. How would someone who dared to charge money for fried eggs possibly expect to get away with calling cubes of boiled potato and onions sprinkled with paprika, a suitable pairing for breakfast?
When he quit his four-pack-a-day habit and subsequently became utterly consumed with thoughts of elaborate breakfasts that would put even the “Full Irish” to shame, which he would begin cooking at dawn, he tried a few different techniques. There was a brief pause, I remember, on frozen hash browns that could be cooked in the toaster. He opted to fry the frozen slabs in oil, instead, which resulted in plenty of golden crunch, but a completely obliterated shredded potato inside that was reduced to dust. Ultimately, he settled on slicing the previous nights’ leftover baked potato, the ubiquitous starch found at nearly every family dinner, and frying the slices in oil before sprinkling them with salt and pepper. The results were good, but not perfect: the inside of the potato slice would pull apart, becoming soggy and overcooked, while the skin of the potato would pull away from the flesh and become bitter.
I think he would have been happy with this technique, a slight spin on the version of the crispy potato he nearly perfected in our kitchen in Tenants Harbor. As with a properly cooked french fry, the secret to these potatoes is in the par-boiling. A few minutes in some boiling water, followed by a finish in a hot oven yields a fried potato that is golden and crunchy on the outside, with a soft, fluffy interior. I like to use Yukon Gold-style potatoes; their yellow flesh is particularly creamy and ever-so-slightly sweet. Dipped in a little Sriracha-spiked ketchup, these potatoes work equally well as a side at dinnertime, as they do at breakfast.
Crispy Oven-Roasted Potatoes
Adapted from a recipe by America’s Test Kitchen; Serves 3
- 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Place a large baking sheet in the oven, and preheat to 450 degrees.
Slice potatoes into half-inch thick slices.
In a medium saucepan over high heat, add potatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt, and enough water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until edges of potatoes begin to cook, but inside remains firm, about five more minutes.
Drain potatoes, and toss in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Toss vigorously with a plastic spatula, and drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil and some more salt. Continue tossing, 1-2 to minutes, until potato slices are covered in a starchy paste.
Carefully remove baking sheet from oven, and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Place potatoes in a single layer and return to oven.
Bake potatoes until bottoms turn golden brown, about 20-23 minutes. Flip potatoes with a metal spatula, and return to oven to brown other side, about 10 minutes more.
Remove from oven, and sprinkle finished potatoes with kosher salt and pepper, to taste.