When it comes to making meals, it's the wise home cook who chooses fresh over processed. For most of us, though, time constraints don't allow that luxury on any consistent basis. Bottom line: We all take shortcuts for the sake of convenience.
That's where a new product - Hungry Jack Premium Hashbrown Potatoes - enters the kitchen. The dehydrated spuds are packaged in a container the size and shape of a pint of milk, and you open it the same way. Once you do, the directions say to add hot water, close the carton and let it stand for 12 minutes and then drain well.
What you have now is rehydrated shredded potatoes, ready (after patting them dry) for pan-frying in oil or butter. Amazingly, the yield is a full pound of hashbrowns.
We cooked some at home and handed out samples to two families to try at breakfast over the weekend. Because we like the concept of extra-crisp, we followed the directions and let ours stay in the pan for double the ordinary cooking time - eight minutes instead of four. For added flavor, we threw in some sauteed onion and mushrooms, shredded jack cheese and a dollop of sour cream.
We liked the results a whole lot - three people killed the pile in record time, and agreed the potatoes were as good or better than the hashbrowns we've found at many diners. Even considering our add-ins.
Here's what spokespeople for the two families had to say about their own Hungry Jack hashbrown experiences. The spuds are $1.79 a carton at Safeway, Albertsons, Walmart and Super Target stores. For more information: www.hungryjackpotatoes.com.
Her: "The texture was perfect - crunchy outer layer, fluffy inner layer of flavorful shredded potatoes. Spot on with the kind of hashbrowns you'd get in a restaurant. My husband is still talking about how much he loved them. Hungry Jack eliminated the painstaking (and sometimes painful) process of shredding potatoes. Bravo!"
Him: "We've eaten hashbrowns made from scratch, and hashbrowns we've bought in the frozen-foods section at the supermarket.These were better than the latter, not as good (of course) as the former. For the convenience and price, we thought Hungry Jack has scored a home run with a dish that's been a breakfast favorite at our house for a long time."