I'm beginning to think my waffle iron can do anything. It can make waffles, of course. It can make omelets (try it! Just whip up omelet ingredients and pour them in). It can make panini (whoa?game changer). And it can make quesadillas to beat the band. (Oh, it can also sing "Jingle Bells" like no one's business. That's another story for another time.)
But did you know your waffle iron can turn frozen hash browns into the crispiest, butteriest taters you ever did see/hear/taste? It's true. And considering how long both frozen hash browns and waffle irons have been around, I'm amazed it took humankind this long to figure it out. (I'm so glad it did!)
Thaw the hash browns at room temperature for about 3 hours, turning the package over occasionally. (Or you may place the frozen hash browns in the fridge overnight.) When they are thawed, preheat the waffle iron to medium-low heat.
Place half the hash browns in the middle of a stack of three or four paper towels. Bunch up the potatoes and squeeze them to force out as much liquid as possible. Place the hash browns in a large bowl, then repeat with the rest of the hash browns.
Drizzle in the butter, then add the pepper and toss everything together.
Coat the surface of the waffle iron with cooking spray, then add 1/2 cup of the potato mixture to each well. (You should hear them start to sizzle!)
Sprinkle the chopped ham evenly over the potatoes then add the cheese. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the potatoes over the top of each waffle. Then close the lid and let 'em cook! How long the waffles take to cook depends on the heat of your waffle maker and the moisture of the potatoes. Lift the lid and check on the waffles from time to time to make sure they aren't burning. The edges and the cheese will start to crisp up and get golden, but you'll want to keep it going until everything is deep golden.
Use a dull knife or spatula to remove the waffles. Serve them with ketchup and dig right in! These are absolutely addictive. Crispy and wonderful!
Change Things Up!
For a simpler hash brown, omit the cheese and ham and just put 3/4 cup
potatoes in each well.
Add diced onion and green bell pepper along with the ham and cheese.