My boyfriend Peter’s birthday is the day after mine, and we’ve started a tradition of hosting a big joint birthday party. Last year after a night on the town, several friends spent the night on various portions of Peter’s apartment floor. To thank them for spending our birthdays with us and sleeping on the ground, Peter and I planned a diner-style morning-after breakfast. There were eggs, bacon, coffee and orange juice. The icing on the cake was supposed to be the home fries. But they just didn’t come together. There were too many potatoes crammed in my pan and what was supposed to be a sizzle was a sad, slow steam.
Fortunately, I’ve learned a thing or two about making the kind of potatoes I’m excited to eat. The key to making delicious home fries lies in these four pointers:
1. Plan the portions. My gut is always to have more food than anyone could possible eat. While it’s cool to have some leftovers, you don’t want to be cooking a lot of food in a way that better serves small batches. The very hot, quick crisping that everyone loves in home fries is best achieved in a pan that’s not packed full of ingredients. Depending on the rest of your menu, plan for 1/2 to 1 potato per guest. And use your judgment, if your potatoes are huge, 1/3 of a potato per person may be the right call.
2. Parboil the night before. Parboiling the potatoes beforehand is a huge time saver while you’re pulling the rest of breakfast together. You won’t have to worry about cooking the potatoes through while simultaneously making waffles and eggs over-easy. Simply peel and cube the potatoes. Place them in a medium saucepan and cover with a few inches of water. Boil until just fork-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool to touch. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
3. Pan fry in batches. If you’re serving more than four people, make the home fries in batches. This will prevent the potatoes from steaming and create that nice, crispy outer shell.
4. Oil should be HOT. Hot oil means a crisp crust as soon as the potato hits the pan. Cold oil absorbs into food, but a hot pan with hot oil creates that delectable crunch you’re going for. Pick an oil with a high smoke point like coconut oil or grapeseed oil. Olive oil will begin to smoke and the flavor will turn before you’re ready to sear.
Home Fries For Two
These home fries are simple with only three ingredients—it can be your base recipe for a variety of flavors. You can add many other vegetables you have in the fridge: bell peppers, turnips, sweet potatoes or leftover corned beef or dried sausage. This recipe serves two, but can easily be increased to serve more.
I used one potato per person in this recipe to accompany two fried eggs. If your meal is more elaborate, consider only serving 1/2 a potato per person.
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cubed, & parboiled (see instructions above)
1 carrot, peeled & finely diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 Tbs coconut or grapeseed oil
2 Tbs fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
salt & pepper to taste
- In a large frying pan (I suggest cast iron or stainless steel over nonstick), heat the oil until it’s glistening. Add the onions, carrots, smoked paprika, and some salt.
- Sauté until onions and carrots are soft.
- Add potatoes and arrange them in an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Allow them to cook without stirring them for 3-4 minutes. When they’ve started to turn golden and crisp up, stir them gently with a spatula, spread them out again, and let them cook undisturbed for another 4-5 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parsley.
- Serve with fried eggs, buttered toast, fruit, and dark coffee.
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