Making hash browns intimidated me for a lot of years. I tried various ways to make them. A lot of folks like cubed potatoes. But, it takes a lot of butter and I actually don't like them. Then, a few years ago, I read America's Test Kitchen's way of making them. It seemed odd, but I gave it a try... And it worked! So, here's how I make them now:
A few small potatoes or 1 or 2 large potatoes.
A nonstick frying pan
Peel all potatoes. Grate 2 small or 1 large. Don't grate them all at once. Put the grated peelings inside a cloth napkin and walk over to your sink. Close the napkin around the potato peelings and squeeze the water out of the potatoes.
Then, heat 2 Tbsp. of canola oil in the pan over medium heat. Place a small handful of potato shreds in the pan. I have a 10" skillet and I can make two at a time. With your spatula, spread the shreds out so that they aren't very thick. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the hash browns. You want them to be close enough to each other so that they'll stay together, but you want them in a pretty thin layer so that they'll cook through. Start with a small hashbrown to begin with so that you can get the hang of it. After I've made one round, I add some more shreds and make a second. Over medium heat, it takes several minutes to cook. You can cook your eggs over easy, pour your coffee (with cream and sugar), set the table... Keep an eye on them and check back. You'll be able to see the edges start to brown. When you want to flip them (after 2-4 minutes), you can try. Hashbrowns are a bit of trial and error. Let them cook on the second side and turn them back over to crisp some more. It's surprising how long they take to cook.
But, it's better to cook them over medium for longer than over a higher heat for a short time. The insides need to cook. Also, they are prone to burning over higher heat unless you're watching them like a hawk (which I'm not good at).
Making hash browns is a really fun, super cheap treat! I did tell my husband that I can only make them for 2-4 people at a time. It takes a lot of hand strength to squeeze the water out of the potato shreds.
Today was my most successful attempt at making them. I wasn't in a rush to turn them. I realized that was the key. They really do take a long time to cook until they're crispy on both sides! One thing that was different about them today was that I used oil and no butter. I think that oil works much better. I also used a nonstick pan. Cast iron and stainless steel are much harder to cook hash browns in.