Hash-browns were always one of my favorite parts of breakfasts out when I was growing up. And I remember eating them by the plateful at a diner counter with my dad one time when he picked me up from school—a surprise lunch out where I measured out the ketchup with every bite and asked for extra malt from the fountain. Oddly enough, I never order them now: so decadent, and they rarely live up to the memory.
I came across this particular recipe in Sunset’s Eating Up the West Coast—part travel guide, part cookbook, it’s the one I first broke out a month or so ago for this other winning breakfast. We’re going to the Mendocino area this coming weekend with some friends, and it just so happens that these hash-brown waffles are a specialty at Circa ’62, an inn in Little River, California, near where we’re headed.
I’m not sure we’ll make it over there, however, so I couldn’t resist giving them an early taste.
It turns out that cooking hash-browns in a waffle-iron is pretty genius: once you shred the potatoes, the process is pretty hands-off. You’re left to soft-cook some eggs or fry up some bacon while they brown. And because they waffle iron (Belgian, ideally) has all those grooves, you get a higher ratio of crispy bites (the best parts) and plenty of places to catch the runny egg… or maple syrup… or ketchup… or whatever your heart desires.
While your waffle iron is getting hot, box-grate your potatoes. (We got two very large russet potatoes and it made 4-5 waffles.) You can peel them if you like, but I skipped that step. It takes some elbow grease, so if you’re making a lot of these and have a stand mixer, now’s the time to break out the grater attachment. Then again, there’s something fairly satisfying about it.
Place the shredded potatoes into a colander and give them a quick rinse to decrease the starch. Then transfer them to the center of a clean towel. Wrap the potatoes and squeeze out as much water as you can. (The book suggests twisting from both ends of the towel.)
Pack a 1-cup measure with potatoes for every waffle square. Grease the waffle iron with non-stick spray and spread the potatoes over one square. Drizzle with about a tablespoon of oil and add salt and pepper before closing the lid.
I used my waffle iron on its highest setting and it took around 10-minutes for the waffle to reach a nice level of brown. Use those 10 minutes to prep the plates, because you’ll want to serve these immediately!
Recipe adapted from Eating Up the West Coast by Brigit Binns (c/o Circa ’62/Kevin and Sandy VanderBes).