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Easy Pan-Fried Hashbrowns with Cheese
Cheesy hash browns
This is one of those things that just fell out of the fridge one day when I didn’t feel like cooking. It was just for me anyway. But then the rest of the family wanted to try it, and it became a favorite recipe.
Easy and fried
There are two things that distinguish this from any other recipe I have seen for cheesy hash browns. First, it’s not baked. Second, it doesn’t need to be because it contains no soup or other liquid. With only three basic ingredients, it doesn’t get any simpler than this!
Rate this recipe for Easy Pan-Fried Hashbrowns
- hash browns, frozen
- shredded cheese, I like Quesadilla because it's quick melting, but resists sticking to the pan
- hotdogs, or slivers of ham, left-over chicken, etc. but precooked
In an 8-inch frying pan with a non-stick coating, melt 1–2 tablespoons of butter. It needs to coat the bottom and part-way up the sides. I start this on high heat and before the butter has even completely melted, I pile on a heaping handful or two of frozen hash brown string potatoes. It takes a bigger pile than you might think because the volume shrinks tremendously when they get all matted down. Douse it liberally with salt.
Use a spatula to tuck in any loose shreds along the edges so they won’t burn. Adding a small amount of butter around the edges also deters burning. Turn the flame down to medium-high, high enough to brown the potatoes, but low enough not to smoke the butter. Cover it. A glass lid is nice because you can watch through it. But don’t just watch—you need to get step 3 done first!
Get the shredded cheese and meat ready. I usually use a tube steak (hotdog just sounds so inelegant, doesn’t it?). You can dice it, slice it, sliver it; here I made long ovals. Other possibilities are bits off a turkey carcass, a twice-sliced slice of lunch-meat or crumbled sausage or hamburger meat. Be sure it is pre-cooked, because all you’ll do in step 4 is warm it up.
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How is the potato patty doing? Nudge it from the side with your spatula. If the patty has some give to it, it’s not done yet. If it seems solid, but stuck to the pan, add a little bit of butter around the edge to lube it and loosen it. If it scoots across the pan when you nudge it, it’s time to flip it. A really wide spatula helps here; mine is nearly as big as the pan, which means the patty stays intact and lands in the pan—usually.
Arrange the tube steak or whatever topping, fancy or not—no one’s going to see it after you cover it with cheese. So, layer on the cheese topping. I’ve never tried sliced cheese, but I don’t know why it wouldn’t work. I like to use queso quesadilla, a Mexican cheese from Oaxaca. It has a low melting point, but the shreds that fall onto the bare pan don’t easily burn.
Turn the flame to medium and leave uncovered. You want it hot enough to brown the bottom, but not too hot for the cheese. It’s done when the cheese has begun to melt together in the center. It doesn’t need to melt all the way. Enjoy!