Shake Up Your Hash Browns!

Once, I spent a summer on a 50-foot sailboat with a dozen other people. We slept on hammocks beneath the stars and cooked meals out of canned chicken and instant rice in a galley that makes my small kitchen huge by comparison. Occasionally, we would trawl a fishing line behind us as we sailed, then fry up filets or roll sushi with our catch.

Keeping the yacht in shipshape was a 12-person job, and we rotated chores. Naturally, I preferred cooking duties to clean-up responsibilities. Problem was, so did a fellow “mate.” While the rest of our crew went off to scrub the head and relinquished the chopping and sautéing to the two of us, we found we weren’t great kitchen co-pilots. A summer’s worth of tension came to a head over salad dressing emulsification methods one night, and we barely spoke the whole next day. Yep, we gave each other the silent treatment on a 50-foot yacht. (Also note: we were 15.)

The point is, while I love sharing this space with you readers and my living room with friends who come by, I don’t usually want us all to collaborate on a single bowl of salad dressing. (On the other hand, if everyone wanted to make sandwiches and grain salads and roasted potatoes and honey-drizzled cake, I bet we’d have a really lovely potluck picnic in the park together. Eating together is the best.) Am I alone in my penchant for cooking alone though?

Along came Lissa Ivy, Alex’s step-sister, who shattered my preference for potlucks over communal cookery with one invitation. An artist and collaborator by nature, she suggested making a meal of these spicy Swiss chard tartines at her place when we visited San Francisco earlier this summer. I agreed, but not all that willingly. Yet as I plodded through the Noe Valley farmers’ market and grumbled to myself about the overlong prepwork, a group vision for the meal cracked through my reluctance.

Lissa Ivy added lemon zest and kale to the greens mixture, and the flavors melded better than in the original. We spread goat’s milk butter on our baguette halves, and my god, goat’s milk butter is awesome. And Wesley, Lissa Ivy’s boyfriend, made potatoes.

What potatoes! Wesley used his dad’s method of parboiling the potatoes before roasting them. Been there – seen that, thought jaded old me, as I watched. But here’s what I hadn’t seen before.

After boiling the potatoes but before spreading them out on the baking sheet to roast, Wesley gave them a thorough shake, tossing each one with spices and oil, and–here’s the crucial part–roughing up each potato, multiplying the surface area.

When these scuffed-up, shaken potatoes go in for their roast, there’s a whole lot more room for them to get crispy. Every little mountain top and valley created by the earthquake you roused in the pot has a chance to turn into a golden, crispy little nugget. I’d venture to say each potato begins to resemble a tater tot, but without all that grating and shaping.

Unlike most posts, this one has a moral. You might become a genius hash brown cook when you put aside your solipsistic preferences and go in for the chaotic act of making breakfast with a group.

**Summer Fest**

I’ve teamed up with Food Network and a host of other great bloggers to bring you Summer Fest, a season-long celebration of produce. Follow the links below to check out what everyone else has cooked up with their potatoes this week as we head into fall!

Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Crock-Pot Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes
Dishin & Dishes: Roasted Potato Salad
Made By Michelle: Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Red Chile Breakfast Potatoes
Virtually Homemade: Potato Onion Bread With Poppy Seeds
Sweet Life Bake: Tacos de Papa Potato (Potato Tacos)
From My Corner of Saratoga: Easy Crispy Fried Potatoes
Thursday Night Dinner: Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Coconut Oil
FN Dish: The Multipurpose Potato


Shakin’ Hash Browns
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
The best hash browns in the world – and they’re easy!
  • 2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 5 medium potatoes), peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Put the potatoes in a medium-sized stockpot of cold water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to be sure the potatoes don’t stick to the bottom – about 12 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, watching to make sure the water doesn’t boil over, and simmer vigorously for another 8 minutes, until the potatoes are very soft and have a roughness around the edges.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. Drain the potatoes, then return them to the pot.
  4. Add the oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and smoked paprika. Put the lid on the pot and, holding it in place, give the potatoes several good shakes. You want to rough up the potatoes and distribute the oil, salt, and paprika as well. Don’t worry if some of the potatoes look a bit smushed – they’ll all crisp up in the end.
  5. Scatter the shaken potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes, until all the potatoes are very crispy. Serve immediately, with other brunch treats like eggs, bacon, and pancakes.
Don’t plan to make these in advance – they’re best when hot for sure. However, they do hold their crispiness for longer than you’d expect, a welcome trait.



  1. I love this post! And totally agree with the cooking alone sentiment. I had an ex-boyfriend that was as stubborn as me in the kitchen and we would get in fights because we cooked rice differently….

  2. There are very few things in this world more tasty than these potatoes. You should just make them right now!

  3. you had me at “solipsistic preferences”! and the hash brown technique is wonderful…

  4. These look so good! I am definitely preparing this recipe soon. Beautiful pics too.

  5. Do I haw to use parchment paper? I’m going camping this weekend and we have an oven in the cabin and an outdoor grill. I dot think ill have parchment paper!

  6. you can also do this technique with lemon juice instead of smoked paprika for greek-style lemon potatoes. yummy!

  7. I made these for dinner–we got impatient and didn’t cook them for 40 minutes but instead about 20… but they were delicious and I’ll try again soon. Phoebe, I have to thank you for this website (which I found via the BBC America blog for Chef Race). I have made so many recipes on here in the past few days (Noodle Kugel for Yom Kippur, Apple pancakes for Sunday brunch, etc) that I’m finally learning how to cook in my tiny Manhattan kitchen!!

  8. These look amazing! I’d love to make them tonight, but I only have red potatoes… Would you adjust the boiling/baking time given their different consistency?

    • Sorry for the late reply, but no! Red potatoes are close enough to Yukon golds that you should be fine. Hope you enjoyed!

  9. i just made these for dinner tonight and love their really great, great, smoky flavor — its almost like bacon, that these potatoes have! i used red potatoes and butter in mine and couldn’t be happier right now knowing, after tasting them, that there is enough there for 2 people, whew! ’cause someone could get seriously hurt over these 😉 thanks for sharing!

  10. I can almost experience the crunchy sensation of biting into one of these already. I’ve got to make these ASAP.

  11. These are the only way I make potatoes now! I combine them with spicy black beans, scrambled eggs and pesto yogurt (inspired by your yummy breakfast bowl). Soooo satisfying!

  12. I made these this morning–amazing (and simple) recipe. End result was perfect even though I just used some plain baking potatoes. Thank you!

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  14. I made these tonight and they were so delicious! I didn’t have any fresh herbs so used Herbs de Provence and they were perfect. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

  15. Made these several times now and they are AWESOME! Sometimes I add Liptons onion soup mix when I’m shaking them up. Gives some extra pizzazz. Do you think this recipe would work with butternut squash? I usually just roast it in cubes which is good but I want to go for the crispy factor like in the potatoes. By the way, I don’t use parchment paper for this recipe. I put some olive oil in the baking sheet and stick it in the oven for a few minutes to get it hot and then I put the potatoes in. They do not stick and I think they get crispier than they would with parchment. I pretty much use parchment paper for everything else.

      • Did you do anything different for sweet potatoes as in spices? When using regular potatoes have you used Italian seasoning? I like a little paprika but not necessarily smoked. Thank you for your wonderful recipes

  16. jaimee oliver does a similar thing but roughs up his potatoes in a collander when he drain his spuds from the parboiling

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