A dish usually served at breakfast in the eastern United States consisting of cubed potatoes, either precooked or raw, fried or grilled (on a diner grill, not a barbecue) until browned. The dish is sometimes augmented with the addition of onion or green bell pepper, and some restaurants enhance its color with paprika. If home fries are done correctly, this is unnecessary. "Smothered home fries," or home fries covered with melted cheese, are sometimes considered a complete meal.

Do not confuse home fries with hash browns, which are served in the place of home fries in places west of the Mississippi. They are very good, but a different thing entirely.

The first scene in "Home Fries" shows a middle-of-nowhere Burger-Matic restaurant, where the latest customer grabs a shake from the drive-thru window and starts on his way home, but on the way he's chased by a helicopter and dies of a heart attack.

Clearly, this isn't an ordinary romantic comedy, even though when it was first released in late 1998 it was heavily advertised as such. The story, supposedly, is a romance featuring Luke Wilson and Drew Barrymore, but there's also more than a few hints of dark comedy in this offbeat movie.

Barrymore is radiant as a very-pregnant employee at the Burger-Matic - and that now-dead customer (Chris Ellis) is the father of her child, married to a deliciously insane Catherine O'Hara. Barrymore broke it off as soon as she found out Ellis was married, but O'Hara didn't take things so well...

She was so upset, in fact, that she convinced her sons (Wilson and Jake Busey) to give him a good scare with a National Guard helicopter. But it worked too well - "Did I ever use the word `kill?'" O'Hara asks, privately glad to see the philanderer gone while publicly making a high-decibel spectacle of herself.

In the process of tying up the loose ends in this bizarre scheme, including radio interference from the Burger-Matic headsets, Wilson gets a job there and inevitably falls for Barrymore. O'Hara isn't too pleased with this, and the movie ends just about where it began - with another helicopter chase, while Barrymore practices her Lamaze breathing.

"Home Fries" is both romantic and comedic, but the two seldom meet. Even the camera agrees with this - scenes that are supposed to be funny are shot in brighter colors, usually outdoors. Conversely, the romantic scenes are muted, perhaps due to the lighting, perhaps due to the restrained performances of Wilson and Barrymore. They pull off the romance subplot elegantly, but they're forced to compete with O'Hara and Busey for both screen time and impact. Playing the juicy roles of villains to the hilt, they also further the disparity between "romantic" and "comedy."

As a romance, "Home Fries" is almost a hit. Barrymore is a wonderful actress, hitting all the right notes, down to the subtle flutter of her eyelashes. But writer Vince Gilligan, whose time writing for "The X-Files" is apparent, doesn't always pay enough attention to the romance; with comic talent like Catherine O'Hara on board, though, it's hard to blame him. Fortunately, the dark comedy is as on-target as the large-caliber guns on those Army helicopters.

Yet another response to Everything Quests: Film Reviews.

Making Killer Home Fries - Fast!


Potatoes: Whatever amount you wish, though more than 3 or 4 probably aren't practical to cook at one time. Generally one large baking potato is great for a side dish for one person.

All Purpose Seasoning Salt: Your plain Jane, everyday seasoning salt.

Table Salt

Olive Oil

Also Montreal Chicken Spice can be good if you have any


Sharp Knife

Cutting Board

Large Frying Pan, fairly deep


Paper Towels

Large Plate

Spatula or Wooden Spoon

Oven Mitt


- Slice your potatoes up as fine as you can. (definitely no slice should be more than 1/4" thick) This will make nice little discs of potato, sort of like potato chips

- put the potato slices on to a large plate and place in the microwave. Cook the potatoes on high for about 4-5 minutes per potato (hard to tell you exactly how long- lots of variety in microwave power and potato sizes out there). Generally they should be in for as long as you would cook the equivalent number of baked potatoes. So if you started with two large bakers, put the sliced potatoes in for the same amount of time as you would for baked. You want the potatoes basically fully cooked in the microwave. My oven has a baked potato quick button and that works great for me.

- when the potatoes are close to being done, get out your large frying pan and put a liberal amount of Olive Oil in the pan. When the potatoes are done, put them in the pan and put a bit more Olive Oil over top of them. Stir everything up and turn the burner on to something near high (say about 80% heat for whatever burner you have)

- stir the potatoes frequently as they cook, add in your seasoning to taste- usually enough of the all purpose salt that there is a visible coating on the potatoes (not solid red mind you). Use your plain table salt to taste- though if you're not a salt fanatic you might just want to add this after.

- keep stirring the potatoes fairly frequently until they are done- they will turn brownish. You can cook them until they are crisp if you'd like. The best thing is to try one and see how you like it. Careful! It's hot.

- Put a couple of paper towels on a plate. Once the potatoes are cooked spoon them on to the plate. Put some more paper towels on top.

- serve hot and enjoy!

An alternate recipe for Home Fries:

First we'll start with the ingredients:

Next, we'll talk about preparation. Before you start you'll want to do a few things. First, wash the potatoes, but leave the skins on, and chop them into cubes roughly a quarter inch on a side, although there can be a decent amout of variation and it won't hurt anybody. Next you'll want to chop up the onions (about one quarter the volume of onions as potatoes) and garlic (about one half clove of garlic per onion, minced finely). Pour enough olive oil into the bottom of a high walled cast iron pan to cover one of the little cubes of potato with a 25% or so engineering tolerance. Start the pan on high heat, and let it heat up until the oil is smoking. Now take a handful of your mixed onions, garlic, and potatoes and toss it in (be careful, it will spatter and hiss like the devil). With a wooden spoon stir it all around until the oil is again smoking hot. Repeat the process until all the veggies are in the oil. The reason for doing it this way is that by ensuring that the oil is smoking hot when you add each of the batches of potatoes you'll make sure to flash fry the outermost layer of starch and keep it from turning into a sticky mass. If you want the sticky mass, you should make hash browns instead. Once all the potatoes are in the pan, you can add your seasonings, which will be black pepper to taste, a small dash of paprika, and just a small dash of balsamic vinegar (for four potatoes I'd tend to use less than half a tablespoon).

Once all that has been done, keep it cooking over medium to high flame until all the potatoes are cooked through (be sure to find one of the larger chunks to prod with a fork because the largest ones will take longest to cook), and the outsides of at least a decent percent are slightly browned and crispy. The balsamic vinegar helps in the browning, and adds a tiny bit of flavor. Serve with eggs, and some breakfast meat (fried whitefish, bacon, sausage, etc...).

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).

The basic list -
Bacon grease or olive oil[
salt and pepper

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.


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