Can hash browns be elegant? Yes, indeed, when you use them to create Potato Nests. Just line mini muffin tins with the shredded potatoes, bake and fill. This is an excellent brunch recipe, special without being difficult. And the nests are baked, not fried!
Make plenty because everyone seems to find room for "just one more" at least twice.
2 medium-large russet potatoes
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces mascarpone or cream cheese, room temperature
2 ounces quality caviar, black or red
You'll need 1 24-cup (or 2 12-cup) mini muffin tin(s), making 24 nests.
Cover the potatoes with cold water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook them only until half-done; you should be able to insert a knife but not easily. Remove them from the water and cool.
When cool, peel the potatoes and coarsely grate them. Gently toss the shredded potatoes to evenly distribute the cooked and uncooked shreds.
Brush the muffin tin cups with melted butter. Line the cups with shredded potatoes, patting into place. (Create a lace effect by letting some of the shreds lay over the top edge of the muffin cups.) You may have some potatoes left over; that's okay.
Bake in a preheated 450° oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove the nests from the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes. Generously season with pepper.
Using a blunt table knife, remove the potato from the tins
and transfer them to a serving platter. Fill with a dollop of mascarpone
or cream cheese and top with a dollop of caviar.
Half-cook the potatoes the night before. Cool, wrap them tightly, and refrigerate until the morning. Proceed with the rest of the recipe.
...with Crab or Other Goodies
Fill the prepared nests with a cream cheese based dip like Crab Dip or Shrimp Dip, or a sandwich salad like Lobster Salad or Ham Salad, or the Spicy Cream Cheese Balls mixture; garnish with snips of chives, as pictured. Remember to cut the salad recipes back; you'll only need 2 to 2-1/2 cups of filling for the nests.
Another option is to fill the nests with with scrambled eggs and crumbled bacon atop a little cream cheese.