We don’t eat breakfast out often, but when we do, one of the things I like to treat myself to are those crispy, crunchy hash browns. While one can make hash browns at home, it’s a bit of a chore to get that same crispy texture, as one has to boil the potato until it’s partially cooked but still firm, then cool the potato, then chill the potato, then shred the potato, then chill the shredded potato further in iced water, then thoroughly dry the shredded potato before frying it.
Um, thanks, but no. 😉
Home fries, though, are, as the name suggests, easy enough to make at home. No, it’s not the same as hash browns, but it is still YUMMY and helps satisfy my crispy potato cravings. As Wikipedia tells us:
Home fries, house fries, or cottage fries are a type of basic potato dish made by pan or skillet frying diced, chunked, wedged or sliced potatoes (sometimes unpeeled) that have been par-cooked by boiling, baking, steaming, or microwaving.
While it is possible to make “home fries” without par-cooking the potatoes, these are technically raw fries. The texture will be more chewy, and the longer cooking time increases the likelihood of burning the potato pieces. As the name suggests, home fries are also made as a simple dish which can be prepared even by people with modest cooking skills as a meal or a snack. A condiment such as ketchup, sour cream or maple syrup might be used.
The frying is typically done in vegetable oil or butter. Other ingredients may be added. If chopped onions and bell peppers are added to diced potatoes it creates a dish known as Potatoes O’Brien. Potatoes and sliced onions sautéed with seasonings are known as Lyonnaise potatoes.
The consistency depends on the type of potato used. Although various types of white potatoes are the most popular base, sometimes waxy (usually red-skinned) or sweet potatoes are used.
In the United States, home fries are popular as a breakfast side dish.
Potatoes have gotten a bad rap, bless their little eyes. Chris Voigt, head of the Washington State Potato Commission, got so fed up with all the trash talk about potatoes that he went on a potato-only diet for two months — and lost 21 pounds eating 20 potatoes a day!
Potatoes are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium, and Manganese.
When I whip up some home fries — usually as a treat for our breakfast — I typically use red potatoes that I scrub really well. I don’t peel them — it takes too much time and besides, there’s nutrition in the peel, as well. I dice them (around a quarter inch thickness), rinse them a few times in water, add the barest amount of water, and then zap them in the microwave, essentially steaming them, until they’ve softened but are still firm. I drain away any remaining water and fry them up in a bit of oil in a non-stick skillet. Easy, yummy, and MUCH healthier than what we would get in a restaurant, as I’m controlling the amount of oil and the amount of salt.
So the next time you’re craving some hash browns but don’t want to go out for breakfast, make yourself some home fries. You’ll find yourself donning your ruby red slippers and agreeing with Dorothy that there’s no place like home! 😉
Home Fries (Number of servings depends upon amount of potato, very easy to adjust up or down)
- Desired amount of potato (use whatever kind of potato you like/have on hand)
- Dried or fresh herbs of choice — I usually use seasoned salt, coarse ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and parsley
- If desired, diced onion and/or bell pepper
- Canola or olive oil (to fry potatoes)
- Scrub potatoes. Peel if desired (I usually don’t). Slice/dice as desired (smaller pieces will cook up more quickly and more crisply than thicker slices will; I usually dice potatoes into about 1/4″ or so pieces).
- Rinse sliced potatoes a couple of times in water. Place in microwave-safe dish. Add a bit more water, if needed, and cook potatoes in microwave until they begin to soften but are still firm. The amount of time will depend upon the power of your microwave, the amount of potatoes, and the thickness of the slice or dice of the potato. Alternatively, you can par-boil the potatoes in water on the stove top.
- Drain any remaining water from the potatoes and blot with a paper towel, if necessary.
- Heat a small amount of canola or olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. The skillet should be large enough that you can spread the potatoes out in a single layer. You only need enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan with about 1/8″ of oil, so easy does it! Depending upon the amount of potatoes, you probably won’t need any more than a tablespoon or two, and you can possibly get by with less.
- Add in potatoes (and, if using, diced onion and/or bell pepper) and spread in a single layer. Season to taste. If you have a spatter lid, do yourself — and your stove top! — a favor and cover your pan with it. No, there’s not much oil in the pan, but trust me, what little bit there is will find its way to your stove top and surrounds! 😉
- Cook on medium-high OR medium heat until crispy on one side (about 5 to 10 minutes). Flip or stir potatoes and crisp other side. Once potatoes achieve desired crispness, remove from heat and enjoy!