Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place a rimmed sheet pan in the oven for 5 minutes. Then, add 2 tablespoons of the oil and heat for 1 minute.
Meanwhile, stir the hash browns in a mixing bowl with the remaining olive oil, salt, garlic powder and and pepper.
Open the oven and pull out the rack with care. Use hot pads to tilt the pan so the oil slides around to coat it evenly. Use a spatula to distribute the hash browns --more spread out for crispier hash brown or crowded for a less crispy all over--into an even layer in the hot pan. They will immediately start to sizzle.
While mixing the potatoes, add in any (or all) of the optional mix-in items (except for cheese, which just makes the hash browns stick to the pan) until evenly distributed. Bake as directed, sprinkling the top with grated cheese, if desired.
Bake the hash browns for 25 minutes, Then check them for browning. If the edges are getting too dark, fold them toward the center. Then, continue baking until they are as crispy browned as you like them, 10-15 minutes more,
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