This ultimate comfort food is called by various names, depending on where you live. Home fries, cottage fries, etc. The recipe began as a way to use leftover potatoes, but it has become a staple of diner breakfasts all across America.
You can use leftover potatoes if you happen to have some. You could also, in theory, use canned boiled potatoes but I think they taste kind of tinny. I cut up whatever potatoes I have in the house … there are always some potatoes in the bin.
Tonight, I used the remainder of a big bag of Idahos. They were too old to bake. I had to pick out the eyes which were barely this side of becoming a plant. There were a few bad spots to remove, too. Nonetheless, I had more than enough to make home fries that would generously serve four adults.
So here’s the recipe. It’s a seat-of-your-pants recipe, so you need to have kitchen courage in place. Be bold.
- 4 – 5 large, washed unpeeled potatoes, cut into small pieces
- 1 or 2 large onions, chopped
- Optional: 1 – 2 banana peppers (mildly hot Hungarian peppers)
- Garlic (chopped or powder)
- Cumin or chili powder
- Oil for frying.
I prefer corn oil because it’s pretty heavy-duty as a lubricant and doesn’t easily burn. It tastes okay and won’t kill you with cholesterol. Olive oil doesn’t taste right in this recipe and other oils burn too easily, at least in my opinion.
You can use potatoes that are past their prime. You don’t have to peel them. I don’t peel potatoes; it’s against my principles.
Wash the potatoes, remove eyes and bad spots. Cut them into pieces suitable for frying.
Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender. Don’t abandon them and wander off to the computer or television. If you over-cook them, they’ll be good for mashing, but not frying. The hardest part of this is getting the potatoes soft enough to eat, but not mushy. After 10 minutes, start checking until you think you’ve got it.
You’re going to need a deep-frying pan. I used to cook with cast iron, but it’s too heavy for me now. I have had to rethink it, so I’m trying heavy Calphalon. I miss cast iron, but I can’t manage it anymore.
While potatoes are boiling, fry the garlic, onions and peppers. When the potatoes are ready, rinse them with cold water, drain very thoroughly (pat them dry with paper towels if necessary) and add them to the onion and pepper mix. Add spices. The paprika is for color. If you like things spicy (I do), you can use hot Hungarian paprika.
It’s done when you think it is, when it tastes the way you want it to taste … and the rest of the meal is ready. As long as you add oil as needed and keep the heat moderate … and don’t walk away and leave it to scorch — this is a dish that will wait for you. Keep moving it around with a spatula.
It’s delicious. If you have leftovers, you can reheat them for another meal or freeze them for one of your “I don’t feel like cooking” days. Great with eggs or anything else.
One of my favorite comfort foods.