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Hash browns or hashed browns are a simple preparation in which potato pieces are pan-fried after being shredded, julienned, diced, or riced. In some cultures, hash browns or hashed browns can refer to any of these preparations, while in others it may refer to one specific preparation. In parts of the UK, hash browns can mean fried left over mashed potato. Hash browns are a staple breakfast food at diners in North America, where they are often fried on a large common cooktop or grill.
In some parts of the United States, hash browns strictly refer to shredded or riced pan-fried potatoes and are considered a breakfast food, while potatoes diced or cubed and pan-fried are also a side dish called country fried potatoes or home fries (though many variations of home fries are par-cooked before frying). Some recipes add diced or chopped onions.
A chef may prepare hash browns by forming riced potatoes into patties before frying (moisture and potato starch can hold them together); however, if a binding agent is added (egg for example), such a preparation constitutes a potato pancake. Frozen hash browns are sometimes made into patty form for ease of handling, and the compact, flat shape can also be cooked in a toaster oven or toaster. If a dish of hash browned potatoes incorporates chopped meat, leftovers, or other vegetables, it is more commonly referred to as hash.
Originally, the full name was 'hashed brown potatoes' (or 'hashed browned potatoes'), of which the first known mention is by food author Maria Parloa (1843–1909) in 1888. The name was gradually shortened to 'hash brown potatoes' until the most common name had become simply 'hash browns' around 1970 (although the shortened name was used in media as early as 1959, by the main character in the pilot episode of The Twilight Zone).
Some claim that hash browns may have developed out of rösti, the Swiss farmer's breakfast dish. If a dish of hash browned potatoes incorporates corned beef, chopped meat, leftovers, or other vegetables, it is more commonly referred to as hash or bubble and squeak, a dish that became popular in war-time Britain.
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