The 10-Minute Window for the Perfect McDonald’s Mash-Up

We call it the golden arches hour, when the hash brown meets the Filet-O-Fish.

9/16/2020 5:01:00 PM

The secret to the best (and worst) breakfast of your life, courtesy of ShoSpaeth.

We call it the golden arches hour, when the hash brown meets the Filet-O-Fish.

. But it's a pandemic. It's a recession. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. Restaurants are dying in droves, and there's no end to it. I'm not saying you should go to McDonald's and eat their food, but I'm also not saying you shouldn't go to McDonald's, order a breakfast sandwich, and stick one of their very good hash browns in it—not to support some faceless multinational food corporation, no, but to give yourself a brief moment of pleasure in these awful, crazy, stupid times. Whether you do so or not I leave up to you and your personal ethics of consumption. Mine is tolerant enough of hypocrisy that I can eat there from time to time without feeling too bad about it; there's a hash brown-sized hole in it, and it otherwise looks like a slice of Swiss cheese. Yours may be made of sterner stuff.

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However, even the most ethical consumer might find a need to resort to ordering something from McDonald's every once in a while, particularly when you're in a dead zone of decent food—highway rest stops, say, or any airport in the United States, or, as is most frequently the case for me, the LIRR station at Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn—places where there's nothing at all that's worth eating, purely from the perspective of gustatory pleasure. But if a McDonald's is around and it's still serving breakfast, know that there is a little light in that momentary culinary darkness, and that light is a breakfast sandwich with a hash brown slid into the muffin*.

** The breakfast sandwiches that don't use the muffin? The ones with the folded egg slab (?) instead of the thing that seems like an actual egg? They aren't worth a damn, to me, so we'll speak no more of them, here.This isn't anything new, of course.

have covered this topic before, although without a McDonald's focus (and in that, they made a grievous errorof taste, if not ethics). Yes, the world has already been told that a hash brown added to an egg sandwich is a very good thing to eat.But why stop with egg sandwiches?

Home from college, after that life-changing experience with the cafe cook, I found myself jet-lagged in Hong Kong, awake at 4 a.m. while my family slumbered on, so I went to the McDonald's down the block, which was the only thing open at that time. Unlike the franchises in the United States, franchises in Asian countries typically offer the Filet-O-Fish for breakfast. If the McDonald's hash brown is the best thing the company has created—and it is—the second best is the Filet-O-Fish, and I did what any reasonable human would do, and put them together.

You can imagine what it's like—the soft bun, with its melted slice of American on one half and the blob of mayo-with-veg we know as tartar sauce on the other, encasing two fried patties, one oblong one of reconstituted potato mush and the other a square of flaky pollock that's miraculously identifiable as once having actually been a fish—but I have to recommend you actually try it to get the full experience; it's mystifyingly delicious. One of its most appealing qualities is the way it reveals the crispiness of the fish puck and the hash browns to be a lie: they aren't crispy like a chicken cutlet or the outer edge of battered and fried chicken; they aren't crispy in the way that crispy things feel like when they shatter against your teeth, like potato chips, or shrimp crackers; they aren't crispy at all, really. Instead, when mushed up one against the other, what's revealed is that they carry a suggestion of crispiness, sort of like if LaCroix has a crispy flavor, even while they're soft as the doughy bun they're encased by. It's a weird trick, and I find it fun rather than disappointing. And of course the combination tastes good because everything in the bun is that signature fast food mix of sweet, salty, MSG-y, and fried.

It can be a little tricky getting both a hash brown and a Filet-O-Fish in the US, unless you're near a franchise that offers the sandwich menu all day (lucky you). If you can't get the hash brown and you're thinking of trying French fries in its place, don't do it. Look at this:

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It looks unappealing, and it isn't architecturally sound: You'll pull whole fries (similarly uncrispy) out of the sandwich unless you exerta lotof pressure with each bite.Instead, I suggest you do what I do, which I admit is simpler for me because I have a toddler and we typically start thinking about lunch around 11 am: Go to your local McDonald's just before they switch over to the lunch menu, grab a hash brown, wait a few minutes, then order the Filet-O-Fish. You will feel awful after eating it, of course, and you may feel awful while eating it, too, but I don't think anyone can deny the damn thing is delicious.

Read more: Serious Eats »

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ShoSpaeth somebody needs to tell Sho that McDonald's serves breakfast all day now :-p ShoSpaeth Definitely find hash brown patties in your grocer's freezer abrowntable ShoSpaeth Adding extra potato to a sandwich is an old and noble tradition (see also crisps in your meal deal). You can definitely buy frozen hash browns, but I agree that it's more of an 'out and about' activity.

ShoSpaeth Hash brown in a cheeseburger is soooo good. Not much better at McDonalds than a cheesy hash burger. ShoSpaeth Sausage Mcmuffin/egg and a hash brown on it. Or Sausage McMuffin no egg with a hash brown on it. The hash brown is the key. Just an english with cheese and hash brown is great too. Use two hash browns as the bread, yummmmm.

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