Treat yourself and your family to crispy diner-style home fries for breakfast. This side dish of fried potatoes and caramelized onions nicely complements items like eggs and bacon. (Ding!), order up!
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Home fries are a classic breakfast side dish served at diners and restaurants, but they’re easy to make at home. Starchy russet potatoes give just the right amount of contrast. The pieces are par-boiled for light and fluffy centers, then sauteed until crispy on the surface.
To enhance each serving’s taste, I saute chopped onions and bell peppers together with the potatoes and a generous amount of savory seasonings. For a complete meal, I serve these golden spuds with crispy bacon and scrambled eggs.
I use russet potatoes because they have a mealy texture when cooked. The flesh flakes easily, which is precisely what we want to create a crisp exterior. Once the crust forms on the surface, the centers become fluffy, just like a baked potato.
Alternatively, you can use other types of potatoes like waxy Yukon gold or red potatoes. However, the lower starch and high sugar content will yield more sturdy spuds that tend to taste more creamy and dense than light and flaky.
Prepare the potatoes
No need to peel the spuds, I prefer to keep the skin on to give more structure and a crispier texture. Cut them into ¾-inch sized pieces to provide a good ratio of crust to-centers. The potatoes break down slightly during the cooking process, so the large cut considers that loss.
If not using the potatoes right away, immediately cover them with cool water as the air oxidizes the exposed areas, turning the flesh greyish brown.
Parboil the potatoes
Raw potatoes are hard, and if just thrown into a hot pan, you risk not cooking to the middle. To quick-start the softening process, parboil them in boiling water with baking soda and salt to season. The chemical leavening agent quickly breaks down the exterior, giving a flaky surface for extra crispiness.
You don’t want the potatoes to be thoroughly cooked; otherwise, they will break apart in the pan. You should be able to poke through the surface with the center still firm. This process takes about 5 minutes.
Drain and dry
Drain the par-boiled potatoes into a colander to remove the cooking liquid. To dry the surface for faster browning, shake off the excess water, then warm them up for a few minutes in the same pot. This process will evaporate the surface moisture, so they don’t steam instead of fry for better browning.
To season, stir in butter and kosher salt. The agitation and coarse granules will create a starchy paste on the exterior, which will crisp up. It’s delicious!
Saute the vegetables
Add a pop of color and enhance the flavor with onions and bell peppers. Dice the onions are, then saute in oil, and season with salt. The salt draws out the moisture, helping to caramelize the natural sugars and adds a pleasant sweetness to the dish. Dice the red bell peppers, then saute unticrisp-tender. Remove the vegetables, so there’s room to fry the potatoes.
Pan-fry the potatoes
The trick to a crisp surface is to allow the par-boiled potatoes to have prolonged contact with the hot pan and fat. I use olive oil and butter, as the milk solids lightly brown, it adds more color and a nutty flavor. Use a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan to prevent sticking.
Heat the large skillet over medium heat to gently brown the sides. Once coated in the fat, spread the pieces out in a single layer, you’ll see a gorgeous golden crust develop. Stir and repeat the pan-frying process until most of the surface is crispy. This will take about 20 minutes. During this time, the centers will complete their cooking.
Add extra seasonings last
Add the dry seasonings to the home fries right at the end of cooking. I use a combination of paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Turn off the heat as paprika is prone to burning if the pan is too hot.
This adds a layer of flavor even before you bite in. Stire in the sauteed vegetables to warm them up, then the home fries are ready to serve. Freshly chopped parsley adds a pleasant fresh taste.
Serve this with
Add baking soda for a crispier texture
When par-boiling the potatoes, add a small amount of alkaline baking soda to the boiling water. When cooked in this solution, the tough pectin in the cell walls breaks down, which releases the starch to the exterior. This technique softens the surface, creating a flaky texture that can be stirred to form a paste on the outside. This starchy paste increases the browning rate, and as the surface dries, it becomes more crispy.
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- 5 cups water
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ pounds russet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 cup yellow onion, ¼-inch dice
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- ½ cup red bell pepper, ¼-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, vegetable, corn or avocado oil
- ½ teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Wash and scrub the potatoes, then dry well. Cut them into ¾-inch cubes.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, bring 5 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add the baking soda and stir to dissolve. Add the potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir and cook until the surface softens but not cooked all the way through, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain into a colander, gently shake off the excess moisture, then add back to the pot. Cook over low heat until the moisture evaporates, about 2 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, add 1 tablespoon butter and ¾ teaspoon salt. Stir until a starchy paste coats the surface, about 30 seconds. Set aside.
- In a large 12-inch skillet or cast iron pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions and ¼ teaspoon salt. Saute until lightly browned and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add bell peppers, saute for 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once the butter melts, add the potatoes. Stir and spread them in a single layer. Let it sit without stirring until the bottoms are golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Turn the potatoes with a spatula. Repeat the process of spreading in a single layer, allowing to sit and fry for 4 to 5 minutes, until a majority of the sides are lightly browned and crisp, about 11 to 15 minutes. Individual pieces may need to be flipped over to ensure browning.
- Turn off the heat, evenly sprinkle the potatoes with paprika, onion powder, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Add the sauteed onions and bell peppers, cook until warmed through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with parsley and serve while hot.
- Recipe Yield: About 3 cups
- Serving Size: ½ cup
- Storing: Once cooled, store them in the refrigerator inside an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Reheating: Microwave on high power in 15-second intervals until warmed through. Alternatively, heat a pan over medium heat, add a few teaspoons of olive oil, then fry until lightly crisp and warmed through.
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