home fries (recipe)
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|Per request from gnarl, I am writing down my recipe for home fries, although I rarely follow any recipe exactly. Because I've been working at a local farmer's market for almost seven years, my recipes always vary with whatever I have to hand. With those caveats, here's the basic idea.
In my lexicon of cooking, all good savory recipes (meaning not baking or sweet) start with "Fry an (onion family plant of your choice) in (cuturally acceptable grease of your choice)." The first variable can be garlic, onions, leeks, shallots. The second can be olive oil, (vegan) butter, (yummy but burns most easily) bacon grease, (southern style uses this a lot) chicken fat or schmaltz (kosher).
Start by halving or quartering the potatoes, and put them on to steam for 12 minutes, from cold water to cooked. They should be done, but still firm. If the corners of the potatoes are going soft, you've cooked them for too long. Poke them with a fork at 10 minutes when in doubt. Cook twice as many as you want, or at least fill the saucepan, because then you have some for potato salad later in the day. And please, use a tasty potato like Yukon Gold, not those bloodless russets, if you can.
So the home fries I'm snacking on at the moment are good southern style, so it begins: chop half an onion and fry it in bacon grease. I usually start for this family by cooking bacon, so two or three slices per person of bacon, and then leave the grease in the pan. That should be about right for cooking 6 to 8 potatoes. (Put the spuds on to parboil while the bacon is frying, if you are the more disorganized type cook.) If you are not cooking bacon, a good sized dollop, call it a quarter of a cup of grease, from your handy drippings jar should do it.
Fry the onions until the pieces have started to brown around the edges (the Maillard reaction, if you want to get fancy). This means some of the starch in the onion is turning to sugar, where you get all the flavory goodness from. I like fine dice, about a quarter to half an inch, because with kids they tend to eat around them unless they are chopped fine. If you are cooking for grownups, inch-sized chunks are nice.
Then slice the potatoes about half an inch thick. You want to cover the bottom of the pan with at least a double layer of potatoes. They don't really need to cook, since you've already parboiled them. They just need to marry that good bacon grease and onion goodness. So flip them a few times, salt them, and then push them over to the side of the pan, and fry your eggs. Frying time is about enough time to get the potatoes evenly heated. Load up the bacon, eggs, and spuds, and go, aaahhh.
A few ways to gussy it up - shallots are more subtle, and go really nicely with the vegan version. Use more olive oil than you think, not two teaspoons, but a good dollop. Cover half the bottom of your frying pan with oil, no skimping,. This is NOT a low fat recipe. The other addition is a shot of salsa IN the pan while you are frying the potatoes, or if you have yummy fresh or home canned tomatoes, a half cup to a cup of medium dice tomatoes. Being a britamerican family, I like HP sauce on the side rather than catsup.