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5 Kitchen Hacks for the Broke and Hungry

#2. Use Paper Towels to Make Hash Browns Like a Greasy Diner

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Fact: If you're drunk and it's after midnight, you're hungry for hash browns. Science would have proven it a long time ago if they felt they needed to bother. They don't, though, because it's just something we've all come to accept as fact.

The problem is, places that get you hammered and places that serve you expertly prepared hash browns are often separated by miles of busy streets teeming with cops just itching to make sure your reckless desire for crispy potatoes doesn't go unpunished.

That's one problem, anyway. The other, of course, is that try as you might, you've never been able to master whatever voodoo it is that restaurants and diners use to make fried potatoes stick together. Fortunately, the solution is pretty simple. All you need is a roll of paper towels.

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Preferably not the kind pictured here, which apparently come pre-soaked in filth.

Well, it actually works better if you have some cheesecloth lying around, but most people stocking that kind of gear in their kitchen aren't getting their cooking tips from comedy sites, so let's just assume you don't.

Anyway, the enemy of properly prepared hash browns is moisture. You need to remove as much of it as you can before you start cooking. Just like with the cheesecloth assumption, I'm going to err on the side of you not going in to this endeavor with a supply of freshly shredded potatoes, opting instead for the kind you get in a bag in the frozen foods aisle. If so, good. You'd be stupid to do all that shredding yourself. This isn't the fucking 1800s.

The first step toward turning that $2 bag of potatoes into something any Waffle House would be proud to serve (which is just about anything, so don't get a big ego over it) is to let the potatoes thaw. You can either do it nature's way by letting them sit out on the counter or, for the hash brown eater on the go, just defrost them in the microwave. I'd tell you what defrost setting to use, but I'd just be guessing like anyone else. There's probably a career with a starting salary in the six-figure range waiting for anyone who's mastered the complexities of cooking food in the microwave.

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The food is cold, but the plastic is hot enough to melt steel.

Anyway, here's where you earn your money. Once your frozen potatoes are reduced to a soggy mess, dump them onto a big pile of paper towels (or your precious cheesecloth for you aristocrats out there). I use at least five or 10. The thicker, the better. Settle up with the trees by reading fewer magazines or something.


They'll grow back.

Now form the paper towel into a ball around the potatoes and squeeze. Really hard. Remove every bit of water that your upper-body-training capabilities permit. Squeeze like you're trying to kill it. If it helps, think of it as the water that makes Denny's necessary. This will make the brutality of the process feel more like self-defense. When you're done, it should look gross.


Perfect.

With all of the water sufficiently drained, the only thing left to do is cook. Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil (exactly a few) in a pan until it starts smoking.


You'll know it's smoking when it starts to look cooler than usual.

Once it does, reduce the heat to medium, add the hash browns, spread them into the thinnest layer possible, and do not touch them again for at least 10 minutes. Leave the room if you have to, making sure to sprinkle a few reminders about your family's fire-evacuation policy into the air on your way out. Whatever it takes, just don't touch them.


Don't!

If you've let a sufficient amount of time pass, when it comes time to cook the other side, you should be able to flip them like a pancake. Gently lift one corner first to be sure. Or, "If it ain't brown, put it back down," as they say in professional potato-cooking circles.

After the flip, either cook the other side for the same amount of time for ultimate crispiness or, if you prefer, cut the time in half for a slightly less potato chip-like experience.

It really doesn't matter which one you prefer. Any path that doesn't lead to the dining room of an IHOP is the right one.

#1. Turn Bacon Into Candy in Under an Hour

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Internet users love bacon so much I'm genuinely surprised more of them haven't instinctively turned on it en masse, just for the sake of being contrary. Like the culinary version of saying The Beatles suck. Give it time, though. It will happen.

Until then, man, how about bacon? Is that stuff not delightful? Not only is it one of the most versatile salty meats in circulation, it even manages to maintain its deliciousness when slathered in syrup.

If you regularly throw or attend the kinds of parties that attract a bacon-eating crowd, follow these steps to become their king:

1. In an oven preheated to 400 degrees, cook five or six thick slices of bacon on a wire rack inside a baking dish for about 15 minutes. That wire rack keeps your bacon from curling. Use it. The kind of bacon you choose is up to you, but as with most things, you get what you pay for.


This was buy one, get one free!

2. Remove the partially cooked bacon from the oven and drain the grease.

3. Slather the bacon in real maple syrup. This ingredient is not negotiable. Anything less is nothing but sugar gravy. Just make sure the stereotype on the label pertains to Canada as opposed to American slavery, and you should be fine. It will also be, like, 10 times more expensive. You can't miss it. Anyway, no matter the expense, be generous in your application. You're not making a sandwich, you're making candy. After applying the syrup, put the wire rack upside down on top of the bacon.

4. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook for another 25 minutes or so. You want the syrup to turn dark brown and be sort of the consistency of caramel. Also, if you don't use this time to fry up a spare piece of bacon for any pets in the house, you're the animal.


Gooooooooood puppy!

5. Remove the concoction from the oven. You may or may not choose to grind a little bit of black pepper on top. That's what I do, so obviously it's the right choice, but it's your call.

6. Serve immediately to someone you need to impress.


Adam hosts a podcast called Unpopular Opinion that you should check out right here. You should also be his friend on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.


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