Julia Child's Hash Browns a la James Beard

James Beard's hash browns were the crisp informal kind made famous in the days of short-order cooks. At breakfast time, they'd grab a handful of boiled potatoes and toss them into a pan of fresh bacon fat. As the potatoes formed a nice brown crust on the bottom, the cook would dribble over them a little butter, which would trickle all the way down. Then the potatoes were ready to be browned on the other side and turned out — a crunchy brown cake on a nicely warmed platter.

Hash Browns
Photo: © Con Poulos
Total Time:
30 mins


  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • Salt

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan, add 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Simmer, partially covered, until almost tender. Drain and pat dry.

  2. Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Add the vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. When the foam subsides, add the potatoes and cook, tossing, until lightly golden. Season with salt and pepper and roughly mash the potatoes with a spatula. Dot the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over the potatoes, cover and cook until crusty on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Slide the potatoes onto a plate and invert them back into the pan. Cook until the underside is nice and crusty. Slide the potatoes onto a platter and serve.

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