Potato Slayer Crispy Hash Brown Cake
Who can resist crispy hash-browns? Not me. I learned the following method, an elevated take on the Waffle House variety, from Amy Thielen’s “The New Midwestern Table.” Amy is a fellow Midwesterner, and an amazing writer and cookbook author (check her books ASAP!). To create the “cake,” shredded potatoes and onions are gently pressed into a 10-inch cast iron skillet (you can do this on the stove top or on the grill). Half way through the cooking process, the potato cake is flipped, frittata-style, using a plate to support the round. Pay attention to the sound and smell of the sizzling potatoes. If you fear the bottom is browning too quickly, use a spatula to take a peek, and/or reduce heat as needed (and fear not: you can serve the prettiest side facing up).
Crispy Hash-Brown Cake with Potato Slayer
In my recipe, I use a mix of onions (green onions add tremendous appeal) and Potato Slayer, our herby, spud-centric seasoning to the mix. The crispy cake is delicious on its own, topped with a sprinkling of kosher salt and snipped chives. But you can also serve wedges of the cake topped with anything you fancy. Topped with sliced ham, a crispy egg, and grated Gruyere, it becomes a “Potato Croque.”
Crowned with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche and caviar (trout roe is delicious and won’t break the bank), it becomes a showy side or centerpiece for a special brunch. Then again, American cheese, a fried egg and a squirt of ketchup would be a welcome finish any day of the week.
3-4 russet potatoes (about 2 ½ pounds) scrubbed but not peeled
1 tablespoon Potato Slayer seasoning
10 tablespoons salted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion diced (feel free to use a mix of shallots, scallions and onions)
¼ cup thinly sliced chives, for garnish
Place the potatoes in a Dutch oven and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Generously salt the water. Bring the potatoes to a simmer over medium heat, then cover partially and cook until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a paring knife (remember they’ll finish cooking in the skillet).
Drain the potatoes and cool (you can also cook them off a day in advance and refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the cake).
While the potatoes are cooking, clarify the butter. Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until it foams and starts to turn deeply golden on top 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let the butter sit for a few minutes. Then, tilt the skillet toward you and carefully spoon off the layer of foam. Pour the clear golden butter into another bowl, then pour the dregs at the bottom of the skillet into the bowl containing the foam.
If you’re cooking on the grill, set up your grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire.
Grate the potatoes (skins and all) onto a baking sheet. Top the potatoes with the onions and sprinkle the mixture with Potato Slayer seasoning. Use your hands to gently combine the mixture.
When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over direct heat (or heat over medium-high heat on your stovetop), and add half of the clarified butter. Add all of the potatoes in an even layer and gently smooth the top and perimeter. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the bottom of the cake is deeply browned, about 15 minutes.
Put a large plate upside down over the skillet, and use two oven mitts to grab the sides of the skillet and turn it upside down releasing the cake onto the plate. Put the empty skillet back on the grates or burner and add the remaining clarified butter. Slide the potato cake back into the skillet and cook until the bottom browns, 10-15 minutes.
To serve, lay the large plate upside down over the skillet, and using oven mitts, invert as before. (Flip again if the other side is prettier!) To with a sprinkling of kosher salt and the snipped chives and serve immediately.
The potato cake is even easier to slice after you’ve refrigerated it overnight– recrisp it in a hot oven or Air Fryer.