I want to make southern style hash browns (cubed 1/3-1/2 inch potatoes) and I WANT them to be more on the greasy side. This accomplishes that they have crunchy spots but are creamy. I've tried pan frying them but that makes them too oily. What would happen if I deep fried them on a low temperature, let's say 275-300f? Would they brown? And would they be more creamy? Or is there a better way?
The way I have achieved this is by gently simmering the potato cubes until they soften. (You want them pretty much cooked, but not so done that they won't hold together well.)
I also lightly salt the water so they take on a little seasoning while they cook. This, of course, is optional.
Next, I drain the potatoes very well. I want them to essentially be dry for the next step. Lastly, I lightly coat the surface of a non-stick pan with oil and cook the cubes on a medium heat, tossing as needed, until they are browned to my liking.
This results in potatoes that are crunchy on the outside and still creamy on the inside.
Par-boiling first is definitely the way to go for oven fries or deep-fried potatoes (similar to Cindy's answer). With relatively thick pieces of potatoes, they recommend starting with them in cold water, and bringing it to a boil, taking them out five minutes after the water started boiling. With smaller cuts, you'd probably boil for much less time.
I follow Cook's Illustrated's suggestion and add a little bit of baking soda to the water. It helps to break down the starches a bit more on the surface of the potatoes which helps to get that crunchy crust.
I would call these “home fries” rather than hash browns personally.
I’ve had much success with two methods.
I’ve prepared them in a commercial kitchen in large batches by baking whole potatoes in an oven, peeling, dicing, seasoning, then frying individual portions in butter or oil until crisp.
At home I prefer to microwave the whole potato (poking holes in it so it doesn’t explode) until tender instead of using the oven.
These two-part cooking techniques are the best way to ensure a doneness in the middle that allows you to focus on building your crust as desired. Deep frying works just fine, but again I’d suggest cooking through first.
I would advise against boiling. Adding moisture to the potato is counter productive to your goal of a crispy finish.