I love my hash browns, have I mentioned that? Being from Idaho must have something to do with it, that or all the Sundays my family spent at local Greasy Spoons. If it’s breakfast or even lunch for that matter, don’t give me a plate of ‘home fries’ or ‘country potatoes’, I want my hash browns. And you can bet that come Sunday at our house my cast iron skillet will be hot, bacon will be cooking in the oven and grated potatoes will be frying away merrily.

I’ve tried many different ways of cooking them. I’ve tried grating them into water, water with sugar (said to help even browning), into a towel to squeeze out the excess moisture and best of all, using baked potatoes from the night before. Each has their benefits and drawbacks, but makes a pretty decent hash brown. I mean what does a good hash brown need to be? A crispy pile of starch with a fluffy interior, a nice bed to lie down a couple of poached, over-easy or sunny eggs, that’s it.

My favorite is the baked potato. And if I have the time, or happened to have the foresight to make a few extra, they make the fluffiest, lightest and wonderfully crisp browns of all. You can cook them in the microwave and then grate them, which works alright, but its not quite the same. But what if you don’t have the time to bake a potato?

My second favorite then is this recipe, or to be more specific this method. And it just so happens that this method also works well for incorporating other wonderful root vegetables, like beets, carrots or parsnips, or shredded squash of any type, winter or summer. One flip, put on the cover to steam them in their own moisture, and there you have it.

Parsnips are one of the best winter veggies. Full of nutritious vitamins and minerals that our body craves this time of year and with a light carrot-ish flavor, at once earthy and clean. You can actually make hash browns solely from parsnips, but I prefer the softer fluffy starch of the potato mixed in. So, give this recipe a try next time your looking for a great addition to your eggs and bacon, or use the parsnip variation as a bed for an entree for dinner.

2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and grated
8 ounces parsnips, peeled and grated
1 egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons flour
5-6 Tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup Gruyère cheese, grated (optional)
Parsley, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper

In a clean dish towel or paper towel squeeze the grated potato to release as much moisture as possible, place in a medium-sized bowl. repeat the process with the parsnips. Add egg and flour and mix in thoroughly. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large caste iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat.

Place a layer of hash browns down in portions, three or four and press lightly with a spatula to form a layer or patty. Season with salt and pepper. The center of the pan will inevitably be hotter than the outside, by placing the browns down in portions it allows you to rotate them so they cook evenly.

Cook the shredded portions for two minute, then rotate and cook for another two minutes. At this point they should be fairly sturdy, as the starch will hold them together. Lift up an edge and check to be sure, then flip and cover with a lid. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove, sprinkle with grated cheese, add parsley or chives. Serve hot.