Do you link certain foods with certain experiences? I do. This is true for coated seasoned hash browns. YUM!
About 25 years ago, I helped lead a group of 30 high school students who volunteered their Spring Break to do service work in the Navajo Nation, Utah. The cook for our group solicited donations for much of the food we took. A nearby potato processor gave her a large quantity of frozen potatoes.
“Use what potatoes you need for your group,” they said. “Donate the rest to the food bank there at the Navajo Nation.”
I was flabbergasted at the size of the donation. Three large coolers full. Each cooler was larger than four of the biggest coolers I’d ever seen combined. Fortunately, they had wheels, so they moved easily.
The potatoes were delicious. I especially liked the French fries, hash browns, and the ones that looked like tater tots. My favorite was the Coated Seasoned Hash Brown Potatoes.
We ate potatoes at least once a day.
Each evening the group gathered to eat, assess the day, and worship together. About 2/3 of the way into our trip, the cook began talking about potatoes. By the seventeenth time she said something about the number of meals we had eaten potatoes, I knew she must be relaying a message. I didn’t get it. I looked at the others. They weren’t getting it either. We all looked at each other. <em>What’s she saying?</em>
Then the light clicked on for one of the boys. “Could we have the potatoes that are like tater tots again?”
Others began calling out requests for their favorites.
By that time, I understood – she was afraid we were getting tired of potatoes. Several of us shouted, “Could you fix the Coated Seasoned Hash Browns again?”
For more than 30 years, Major has made Seasoned Oven Fries every weekend . . . a<strong></strong>ll 52 weekends per year. We sit. We eat those fries. We enjoy those fries! We wonder why we never get tired of them.
Sometimes, I remember the Coated Seasoned Hash Browns I ate on my trip to the Navajo Nation. The taste is similar. The big difference is Major’s Oven Fries didn’t have that crunchy coating.
I began mulling over two questions, How could I add the coating? And Would Major feel bad if I made his recipe better?
The answer to the first question came in a round about way. We prefer cooking with whole spices and use a coffee grinder to grind what we need as we need it. That way we get much better flavors. The problem – if we don’t use all we grind, any remaining spices cake together. I’ve found adding a little cornmeal resolves the problem. What if, I wondered, what if, I added a lot more cornmeal, then coated the potatoes with it?
I tried it. It worked!
Since working on our blogs, Major has come up with a different way of telling me he likes a new dish. With a sense of urgency he asks, “How did you do this?” That’s what he asked about the Coated Seasoned Hashed Browns!
He knows my tendency to freelance in the kitchen. The advantage is that I’ve never cooked the same thing twice. The disadvantage is I can’t write a post with a recipe you can follow.
This time I was ready!
“Here is how.”
- 3 pounds (about 5 large) potatoes
- 3 tablespoons grape seed oil
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 2 teaspoon garlic granules
- ½ teaspoon grains of paradise
- 2 tablespoon paprika
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Peel potatoes. Cut into ½ inch cubes.
- Coat the potatoes with the oil. I put them into a gallon sized zip lock plastic bag and shake. Major just uses a large mixing bowl.
- Grind the other four ingredients.
- Add to the oiled potatoes and mix until the potatoes are coated with all the dry ingredients.
- Spread onto two large cookie sheets, making sure the potatoes are in one layer and don't touch each other.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
The potatoes make a great meal along with our sage seitan sausage.
“These are a lot like my oven fries,” said Major. “With the coating they are also very different!”
If we ask him nicely, perhaps he will share his recipe in a future post.