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In Northern America hash browns are a popular breakfast dish though they can be enjoyed at any time of the day and the Swiss have their own variation of the hash brown which is called Rosti. Years ago the hash brown was given the slightly longer title of the `hashed brown` but as time went by the `ed` was dropped and the potato dish became known simply as the hash brown.
So what is a Hash brown and how is it made? A hash brown is in reality a potato cake, raw grated potato is well seasoned and then bound together and formed into patty shapes ready for cooking. There are many recipe ideas on the Internet but they can be time consuming to prepare and the ready made varieties offer good value.
Many of us put McCains and frozen potato products in the same sentence but the company also provide many other quality frozen food products too. McCains describe the humble potato as a `nutritional powerhouse`- what an amazing label for something that we take for granted! The potato is rich in protein, potassium and is loaded with Vitamin C. Leave the skin on the potato and you have a good source of fibre too.
The 700g pack of McCain hash browns has a very eye catching plastic bag, the background of rich red bag is adorned with a cluster of happy looking sunflowers that are smiling down at you, presumably the sunflowers are there to make you aware that the product has been prepared using sunflower oil. A good clean modern white font announces the contents of the bag and then sitting below the product name is a plateful of the glorious golden potato cakes.
The company explain that the variety of potato used will vary, each season brings a different harvest. But McCain go to great lengths to explain that they only use the best of the crop to produce their hash browns.
Take a wander along the freezer aisle of any major supermarket chain and you will find the frozen hash browns easily. Inside of the bag are the ready prepared hash browns, in their frozen state they don't look their best. Each potato patty is triangular shaped and two or three hash browns are usually adequate for most of us. Although the hash browns are uncooked the rugged surface is already bronzed. Even when they are raw they still smell good, there is a sweet oily smell rising from the potato cake.
They can be cooked in two ways, either in a hot oven or underneath the grill. I usually plump for the oven because I can just put them in and within reason forget about them while they cook. Pre-heat the oven to 220C and lay the hash browns on a baking tray, take care not to overlap them, they need their own space to cook through properly. Put them into the hot oven for about 20 minutes but during that time turn them over a couple of times to make sure they cook evenly.
As the hot potato starts to sizzle they smell very appetizing and when the 20 or so minutes is up and you remove the tray from the oven they look more than delicious. The rugged bronze surface is positively glowing and the triangular potato patty is a mass of different shades of gold as the cooking process has taken place. They are easy to lift from the baking tray and keep their shape well, just one word of warning though, don't overcook them or they may be awkward to serve.
We generally have them for brunch, served with bacon and egg. Hash browns have a unique texture, as you cut into the patty the hot grated potato still holds its own and the coating is crisp and sweet. The hash browns have been well seasoned which is good, unseasoned potato can be so bland and uninteresting. As you eat them you will immediately notice the coarse and interesting texture and they are the perfect accompaniment for bacon and egg.
McCains hash browns contain no artificial colour or flavour and they are suitable for vegetarians. The list of ingredients is refreshingly simple, potatoes, salt, sunflower oil, yeast extract, sugar, natural flavourings, spices, potato starch and dextrose. Per 100g the hash browns contain 187 calories, 1.7g protein, 21.8g carbohydrate of which just 0.05g is sugar, 10.3g of fat of which 1.1g is saturate, 2.1g of fibre and 0.25g of sodium.
They are a very versatile product that can be served at practically any time of the day. The 700g bag costs in the region of £1.07p, so they aren't an expensive or extravagant purchase, they can be enjoyed by both adults and children and I think they are a good buy.