Sunday, October 09, 2005

Sunday Brunch: Diner Food

Diner food epitomises quick, greasy, satisfying cuisine. You can get scrambled eggs, meatloaf and black-and-white cookies all at the same meal at any time of day. The first thing I always go for is the black-and-white, personally, but I know that the thing people love most abvout diners is breakfast food. Eggs, hash browns, pancakes, bacon and toast, in some combination with a side of orange juice and bad coffee is something that just can't be improved upon. If it progresses beyond the adjectives simple and adequate, with some optional greasy-ness thrown in, it isn't diner food anymore.
Now, don't misunderstand me: I love diner food. I wouldn't stop going to diners just because they aren't the French Laundry. Cookies aside, there is one main reason for this: hash browns. I don't make them at home and I don't usually see them on menus anywhere else.
I decided to make these at home because there aren't too many diners out here on the west coast. I'd prefer to wait until I'm visiting relatives in New Jersey, the diner capital of the world, than visit a sub-par establishment. The hash browns are buttery and crispy and simple. You can make them smaller if you wish, but in a diner the portions will be big.

Diner Style Hash Browns
2 medium baking potatoes
1/2 onion, diced (optional)
4 tbsp butter
salt and pepper

Wash the potatoes and coarsely grate them. Toss onion in with potatoes, if using. Divide into 6 even piles.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add one tbsp butter, swirl to coat and drop in three mounds of potatoes. Press them down/spread them out until they are about 1/2 inch thick each. Cook for about 5 minutes. Potatoes will start to look a bit dry on top and will be golden brown on the bottom. Drop in 1 tbsp butter into the center of the pan. As it melts, carefully flip each pancake. Cook 4-5 minutes, until bottom is golden brown.
Repeat with remaining potatoes and butter.
Makes 6 large hash browns.