Bring the diner delight of home fries, well, home! These popular breakfast and brunch potatoes are actually quite easy to get right, as long as you know the method. Here’s one of the best home fries recipes I’ve come across in my culinary career. It’ll show you how to make perfect batch in your own kitchen, and why I don’t recommend boiling the potatoes.
If I find myself at a good diner, I tend to order whatever breakfast potatoes dish they offer (unless French Toast is on the menu). Bonus if they serve it as a corned beef skillet hash. Holy yum on a Sunday morning. Crispy, creamy potatoes, perhaps a little salty and spicy meat, and mushrooms for a bit of umami.
What are home fries?
Most often, home fries are small, cubed, twice-cooked potatoes. First the potatoes are boiled or steamed (my preferred method) to cook them throughout. Then they’re pan-fried to brown and crisp the outside. Often these addictive potatoes are served with sautéed onions, bell peppers and loaded with breakfast meats.
Choosing potatoes for home fries
Let’s not over-complicate matters here. Any potatoes can become tasty home fries. The classic go-to potato, however, is of course Russets. They’re easy to find, and are naturally a drier potato which takes well to frying. I also love using Yukon Golds when I can find them. The skin of a Yukon is thin, so I really don’t feel the need to peel it. Score! Saved a step! I also love the beautiful color and creamy flesh of Yukons.
The secret to restaurant-style home fries
Potatoes that are crispy AND creamy may seem like a tall order, but it doesn’t have to be out of reach at home. The trick is in, well, in the trick. And I have faith you can do it. But first, let’s chop.
For the quickest cooking, cut the potatoes into small cubes similar in size. No need to be exact, if it looks the same, it cooks the same. I tend the leave the skin on (no peeling necessary!). The skins add fiber to a dish that, let’s be honest, isn’t the healthiest one on the block. But your potatoes, your way.
The two-step method
The only way to enjoy home fries that are creamy on the inside and golden, brown and delicious (that’s an actual cooking term) on the outside is to boil or steam them first. You will find a plethora of recipes that call for boiling the potatoes first, but I disagree. My friendly, professional recommendation is to steam them in the oven, instead.
To allow for even cooking, give the potatoes breathing room on the baking pan. A little sprinkling of water will encourage steaming and quicken the cooking. Cover the pan with foil so you don’t roast the potatoes. You want the browning to happen in the skillet on the stove, not in the oven.
If you’re after super crispy home fries, go for cooked potatoes that are BONE DRY. It’s also for safety, as hot oil and excess water don’t mix.
Once the potatoes are tender, I turn off the oven, take off the foil and let them dry out a few minutes. You can steam the potatoes the same day, but also a few days before.
Why I don’t boil the potatoes for home fries
When I cooked breakfast potatoes in restaurants, we always steamed them in the oven. Boiling can easily get out of control if the potatoes are left in the water even a minute too long. The spuds will absorb too much water, become mushy, and then you can kiss your crispy little cubes of delight goodbye.
Now for the fun part: Frying up some hash
Grab your biggest pan, skillet, or better yet griddle. The more cooking space you procure, the sooner you’ll be eating. Also:
FIGHT THE URGE TO STIR.
Stirring too often will prevent the potatoes from developing that lovely crisp exterior. Cook the potatoes one layer at a time in a bit of oil. Brown one side, then flip and brown the other side. I find myself adding more oil to pan as I fry, as the starch in potatoes soaks it up as you cook.
Sufficient oil = Crisp + golden potatoes.
Once a round is deep golden, I push it off to the side and begin again. Shifting the pan slightly off center of the burner keeps the finished potatoes warm, but prevents them from burning.
Just want home fries? Stop here and serve it up. Really. That’s all there is to it.
The ultimate skillet hash
The mild flavor of potatoes gives you a blank canvas for adding a plethora of herbs, spices, vegetables and meats for a skillet hash. It’s also a great way to use up any leftovers that might be going bad in the fridge. A dear friend of mine chops up meatloaf, and adds it to his home fries. YES.
100% DO THIS.
An easy method for adding more flavor to home fries
To spice up your perfectly browned potatoes, push them to the side of the pan, and sauté any vegetables in a little more oil or butter. If you’d like meaty home fries, cook bacon or bulk sausage in the skillet first, set it aside, then fry the potatoes in the drippings. Add the meat back in once the potatoes are cooked.
Hey, I never said this dish was good for you.
Italian-inspired skillet hash
I love this combination because the onions, sausage and mushrooms give it wonderful savor and spice, and the sun-dried tomatoes finish it off sweet and nice. Parmesan is a no-brainer if you’re not vegan or dairy-free.
- Yellow onion
- Spicy Italian sausage
- Cremini mushrooms
- Sun-dried tomatoes
Keep it vegetarian or vegan
For a vegan version, toss in Kalamata olives, pickled pepperoncinis, and wilt a bit of arugula right at the end of cooking. Even as a carnivore, this version is delicious.
My personal favorite is to top skillet hash with a sunny-side up or over-easy egg. The warm, oozing yolk is nature’s perfect sauce. Truly.
Hash is not the type of food I joke about.
Yours in golden, brown and delicious,
P.S. If you have favorite ingredients for homemade home fries, please share!Print
The only way to enjoy creamy, crispy home fries at, well, home! Boiling potatoes can allow them to absorb too much moisture, but steaming them in the oven gets them perfectly tender, and ready for browning.
Frying the steamed potatoes in sausage fat is my favorite way to go, but any oil you like works here.
Home Fries Ingredients
- 4 large potatoes, diced small, Russet or Yukon Gold recommended (one per person)
- ½ medium onion, chopped small
- ½ pound hot Italian sausage
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped
- ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Avocado or peanut oil for frying
More Add-in Ideas
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- bell peppers
- baby greens like spinach or arugula
- a few pinches red pepper flakes or pinch of Cayenne pepper
- few drops of Worcestershire sauce
- fresh or dried herbs, try thyme, oregano, parsley or sage
- Preheat oven to 425° F.
- Spread out chopped potatoes on large sheet pans. Drizzle a little water into each group, and cover with foil.
- Bake potatoes until tender, but not mushy.
- Optional: Once the potatoes are cooked, turn off the oven and remove the foil. Let sit for ten minutes.
- Remove potatoes from oven and cool completely. This can be done up to two days ahead, store chilled.
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, brown the sausage, stirring occasionally and breaking into smaller pieces. Remove from pan and set aside.
- In sausage drippings over medium-high heat cook potatoes in batches until brown on all sides, flipping potatoes once with a spatula. Fight the urge to stir! Add oil as necessary.
- Scrape potatoes to the side, and add onions and mushrooms.
- Once the mushrooms brown and shrink in size, add tomatoes and sausage.
- Combine gently until all ingredients are hot, seasoning with salt and pepper.
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