Steak House Hash Browns

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One of the first stories we wrote when we started at the late Gourmet magazine was about America’s great steak houses. New York’s Ben Benson’s was one of them; and in the course of researching the story, Mr. Benson gave us his recipe for hash browns. They’re great with steak or, for that matter, with eggs in the morning. Note that the prep time does NOT include the time it takes to actually bake the potatoes.

1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large Idaho potatoes (about 2 pounds): baked, cooled, peeled, roughly chopped
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 tablespoons sweet butter
2 tablespoons roasted meat or poultry pan juices (or strong broth)

Sautee the onion and pepper in vegetable oil until soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Combine the onion and pepper with potatoes, some salt and pepper.

Heat a large nonstick sautee pan. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter then press a 1/2-inch layer of the potato mixture (one-half of total) into the pan. Drizzle on a tablespoon of pan juices. Press on the remaining potatoes, then drizzle on the rest of the juice. Cook over medium high heat until crisp on the bottom (about 6 minutes).

Flip the potatoes and crisp the other side in the same manner, using the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. It is difficult to do the flip without breaking them up — not a tragedy, but rather messy. The solution to this problem is to use two skillets and flip from one to the other. Cook another 6 minutes until dark, golden brown. If you have only a small sautee pan, the potatoes can be cooked in two batches.

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