If you are an LSU football fan; this is the year to celebrate. And if you follow college football in general, then you should know that the undefeated LSU football team is top-ranked in the country. We’re going to the national championship playoff game on Monday at the New Orleans’ Superdome. LSU vs. Clemson. To commemorate the successful year of LSU Tiger football, I’m going to make the signature dish of Louie’s Cafe — hash browns. This small diner is located next to LSU’s campus and is a favorite eating place of LSU students Louie’s hash browns are both unique and delicious. Here we go. This is my copycat attempt.
Louie’s Cafe, which is located at north edge of the LSU campus in Baton Rouge, is a favorite hangout for LSU students. It has been around since 1941 in a couple of different locations and is a memorable eating place for alumni, visitors and just anyone who walks in. My step-son and wife, both LSU graduates, make a point to go to Louie’s at least once when they come to town. In their new location, the cafe has kept the retro decor. You feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you visit the restaurant.
Louie’s Hash browns
Louie’s Cafe serves all the typical breakfast and sandwich menu items for a small diner. Plus it offers several vegetarian dishes and dishes with local ingredients such as crawfish eggs Benedict when in season. The best known dish is their hash browns.
Most folks wouldn’t call these potatoes hash browns, but rather O’Brien potatoes. But since Louie’s has named their potatoes, “Cajun Hash Browns”, I’m calling mine that name, too. The potatoes are cut into small cubes, sauteed on the grill (probably in bacon drippings or peanut oil) until they are crispy on the outside and tender inside. Creole seasoning is added. The potatoes are topped with green onions. Plus you can add jalapeno peppers, sauteed onions, melted Jack cheese, sour cream and/or chili. Yum. These “hash browns” are delicious.
I’m attempting to make a copycat recipe at home. These hash browns aren’t easy to cook successfully. After experimenting with different methods of cooking, I eventually just asked the waitress what they did.
So hare are several tips from all my cooking trials::
- Use good quality Russet baking potatoes. This makes all the difference. Find ones that have good flavor and keep buying them. Wash the potatoes and remove any blemishes. Leave the skins on. Cut the potatoes into small dice, about 3/8″ to 1/2″ cubes. Each of these potatoes weight about 1-1/2 lb — they are huge. One potato yielded 4 cups or more of diced potatoes and was enough for a family of 4 people.
- Louie’s Cafe steams the potatoes before finishing them on the grill. I don’t have a steamer, instead I used a pot on the stove. Boil the potatoes in salted water for exactly 10 minutes to blanch them. Drain the diced potatoes thoroughly. This cuts down the cooking time on the grill and assures that the potatoes brown evenly.
3. If you are adding onions (which I recommend), saute diced white or yellow onions in a heavy skillet in a small amount of peanut oil until the onions are translucent. I use my trusty cast iron skillet for this task. And yes, we are using peanut oil for frying. However, you can substitute any vegetable oil or canola oil.
4. Add the drained, blanched potatoes and grill over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add a little more oil if needed. Sprinkle on Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning. Flip the potatoes from time to time. (If you blanched the potatoes in salted water, you shouldn’t need additional salt.) And, don’t crowd the skillet!
Key to the recipe
The key to Louie’s recipe (after steaming the potatoes) is to cook the hash browns over low heat on the grill or in the frying pan; not high heat. The cooks at Louie’s are located where you can watch them prepare everything and these potatoes appeared to brown on the grill a long, long time. The potatoes will finish cooking and crisp up on the outside. No high heat; let’s not burn the hash browns.
Turn off the heat. Add shredded cheese, pickled jalapeno peppers and green onions. I used a mild Mexican cheese blend; Tony’s uses Jack cheese, I’m guessing that is Monterey Jack cheese. The cheese will melt from the residual heat.
My copycat potatoes don’t have quite as many crispy edges as Louie’s. (I’m trying to keep the oil and fat to a minimum.) And I cut my diced potatoes smaller than Louie’s and skimped a little on the cheese. But my hash browns are delicious! It’s hard to top this recipe.
The LSU Tigers haven’t had this good a football team in years — so it is high time to celebrate. The stars in the galaxy crossed at just the right moment when quarterback Joe Burrow transferred to LSU after sitting on the bench at Ohio State as a second string player. After coming to LSU, Joe Burrow met — or collided — with incoming LSU football coach, Coach Ed Orgeron (Coach O). And yes, I am superstitious or at least I believe in luck. Together, things clicked, especially with a new offensive game plan. Joe and the entire LSU team excelled this year. Joe Burrow won the Heisman trophy with as many votes as any player in recent memory. He’s set all kinds of records and has received many awards. Plus this young man is a joy to watch as he plays football on the field. The entire LSU team is exciting to watch.
LSU is playing Clemson for the national football championship in New Orleans on Monday. We will be in New Orleans, too. Not to go to the game, but to take my daughter to the airport. Look for us, we will be wearing purple and gold along with hundreds of other LSU fans! And we should make it back home just in time to watch the game on television. Front row seats! No matter how the game ends, we will remember the 2019 LSU football team. As LSU Coach O always says when he ends every press conference, “Go Tigers!”
Cajun Hash Brown's at Louie's Cafe
- 4 cups (about 1-1/2 lb) diced russet potatoes — 1 to 2 large potatoes, skin on, diced 3/8″ – 1/2″ cubes
- 1 tsp salt
- peanut oil
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced (1 cup diced)
- 1 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
- 1/2 to 1 cup mild shredded Mexican cheese blend (or shredded Monterey Jack cheese)
- 2 Tbsp pickled jalapeno pepper sliced, drained
- 4 green onions, sliced, whites and part of green tops
Method and Steps:
- Scrub the potatoes, remove any blemishes. Dice potatoes into small cubes, 3/8″ to 1/2″, leaving skin on.
- Add potatoes to medium-sized pot, add water to cover and salt. Bring to boil, then lower heat to just boiling, cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove from stove and drain potatoes in a colander. Set aside.
- Add 1 Tbsp peanut oil (or canola oil) to a large heavy cast iron skillet and heat over medium heat. Add diced onion and saute for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent.
- Add the blanched potatoes to the skillet and a little more peanut oil, if needed. Turn the heat to low. Sprinkle with Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning. Let the potatoes cook on low heat for about 10 minutes. Turn the potatoes several times.
- Turn off the heat on the stove. Add the shredded cheese, pickled jalapeno peppers and green onions. Let cook in the heat of the skillet for several minutes until the cheese melts.
- Transfer to a serving plate or portion onto individual plates.
Enjoy and “Go Tigers!”
And….I believe that Clemson’s mascot is also the tiger. So pick your Tiger!