Kitchen Hacks

Genius 3-Minute, All-Crispy Hash Browns from Josh Ozersky

April 13, 2016

In 2011, four years before his untimely death, Josh Ozersky hit reply to one of our early Food52 newsletters. "If you guys need a genius recipe sometime, I have a really great one for hash browns."

His voice was clear and compelling, and almost suspiciously confident even in what amounted to a dashed-off reply to a weekly e-blast:

"Essentially I grate a potato very sparingly into sizzling butter, leaving lots of space in the pan, salt it, and then let it connect itself into a latticework as it dehydrates. The starch is like glue and the result is pure potato flavor. Most amazing is how it can be flipped as one giant hash brown snowflake."

I should have responded. But I wavered. For one thing, he didn't exactly write to me—he did the thing that < no-reply > newsletters have been training us for years not to do.

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Top Comment:
“What a story! So happy Josh left that reply & his genius recipe made it here! Can't wait to try them :)”
— bella |.
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But I also didn't know how to tell him, after watching a video of him making his hash browns on eHow.com, that not only did I not believe his recipe was genius, I didn't understand it at all. Watch below till the end and you'll see that his skillet of hash browns and butter yields so little that it looks like a lark, a garnish at best. I should have told him as much—he probably would have enjoyed the challenge, and then flamed the potatoes out of me.

When I finally tried the Ozersky way years later, I realized, of course, that he'd been right. His method is completely genius, for all the reasons he says. The hot little shards of hash browns are all crisp, with no pale, lifeless middles. Or, as Ozersky described them in Esquire in 2014: "In the center, unspoiled and innocent, but also passionless and inert, are some untouched refugees that somehow avoided being browned. I try to keep my consumption of these to a minimum, because, really, what's the point?"

His technique is brilliant in its absence of technique: There's no par-cooking or salting or squeezing or clarifying of butter or finishing in the oven. And there's very little waiting for gratification. The best hash browns really were this easy the whole damn time.

"These hash browns are austere and exquisite, something from a tasting menu at the diner of the gods," he wrote, in describing why he'd want them to be his last meal for the blog My Last Supper. "But that’s only if you are making them by yourself."

But you can, as I found out, make more of them at once than he does in the eHow video—enough for a healthy single serving, as long as you're still leaving plenty of gaps for the steam to escape. (In fact, they'll flip more cleanly, the more places the shreds intersect.)

And since they take all of 3 minutes from full potato to lacy latke, you can swiftly whip up another pan for a friend. Ozersky probably would have filled out the skillet a tad more himself, had he not been busy narrating his process and cracking jokes about Teflon. In hindsight, I'm glad he didn't.

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by Bobbi Lin

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17 Comments

robin L. May 11, 2016
Just tried this w/a sweet potato and it worked...yum.
 
VANESSA W. May 11, 2016
I forgot to comment back, I have only tried it sweet potatoes and I'm hooked
 
VANESSA W. April 27, 2016
Could you make this with sweet potatoes?
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2016
I haven't tried it but I can almost guarantee it would be good!
 
toweringinferno April 24, 2016
So, basically rösti? The Swiss add grated onion and make it heftier for several people, but the essence is similar. Every oma has her secrets, like any good, simple family food. This looks much simpler, and yummy with all the crispy bits!
 
Maya April 19, 2016
I made these and topped them off with a sunny side up egg. SO YUMMY.
 
Julie April 13, 2016
Looks so simple -- can't wait to try it. Thanks for sharing this video.
 
Andreas April 13, 2016
Oh god, I just thought of the possibilities combined with egg.<br />
 
Andreas April 13, 2016
OK, I just made them. It works. Who would have thought that you could make them for a quick midnight meal.<br />I petty my waistline, now that I know.
 
Brock April 13, 2016
Where'd the diamond-lattice pan in the photoshoot come from? Gorgeous!<br />
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 13, 2016
We used to sell them in our Shop but sadly no longer. It looks like there are a couple variations over at Kaufmann Mercantile, but not the exact model: https://www.kaufmann-mercantile.com/products/turk-double-handle-criss-cross-pan
 
Trixie April 13, 2016
That isn't enough Hash Browns to fill a Hen's Tooth.<br />
 
Betsey April 14, 2016
I mean, come on. Where's the rest of it???
 
Olivia B. April 13, 2016
<3 Can't wait to make these this weekend.
 
Olivia B. April 13, 2016
*Love. Can'
 
bella |. April 13, 2016
What a story! So happy Josh left that reply & his genius recipe made it here! Can't wait to try them :)
 
Kenzi W. April 13, 2016
Bravo, potatoes; bravo Josh; bravo, K.