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A Rant re: Home Fries

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When I have pork and eggs for breakfast, I don't much care if the pork is bacon, ham, or sausage - I like them all. While I usually have my eggs over easy, I also like scrambled, sunny side up, and even poached. I'd rather have wheat toast, but rye's fine, and white will do in a pinch.

But my potatoes? They've got to be home fries. Again, I'm not all that rigid. I have had home fries with onion, and with green pepper, and with a little chopped up bacon, and loved them all because of the basic ingredient: leftover boiled potatoes, sliced up into chunks, and fried in a griddle or pan with lots of butter until they get a beautiful crust. Honest hash browns are nearly acceptable, if they're made on a griddle out of grated potatoes, but so often these days, "hash browns" means some previously frozen deep fried cake that crunches in your mouth like a cracker, instead of that glorious crust melting slowly into sheer delight. (Latke fans - I just despair of finding a decent one these days, but they are sublime when done correctly.)

And I am just mad beyond belief when the plate brought before me has "home fries" that clearly came out of the freezer, and went into the deep fryer. Most of the time, they are these little cylinders whose potato ancestry is many generations removed. I suspect they are made from potato flour and thickeners - doesn't that sound yummy?

What truly galls me is the place that's most convenient to stop by on my way to work has a good breakfast special - 3 eggs, sausage or ham or bacon, toast, and choice of potatoes for $3.99. Their "potato" choices are rice (for breakfast?!), roast potatoes (replete with extra grease), and the aforementioned abomination masquerading as home fries. I look at the roast potatoes, and think "Gee, couldn't they cut these up, fry them next to the bacon or ham, and give me real home fries?". But they won't.

Am I the only who feels this way? Is Toronto the only place where they foist these awful things upon you? And if you've had great home fries, I'd like to hear about it!

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  1. I have no idea how I can ease the pain of someone in Toronto from way the hell down here in Southern California, but I can certainly feel it (if that's any consolation at all). While I have more tolerance than you, apparently, for crunchy hash browns, I spent the better part of thirty years in Nashville trying to find a decent fried potato that (a) came in chunks or slices, and (b) was fried to a fairly crisp exterior and a meltingly soft interior. I was so bereft that I actually became fond of the "cottage fries" at one cafe simply because they were made from thin slices of fresh potato and cooked on a grill until they were almost edible. But then the "normal" breakfast starch there is grits anyway, and I suspect they put potatoes on the menu just to keep the tourists happy...

    Here in LA it's actually better. I've had several kinds of perfectly acceptable breakfast potatoes, both sliced and diced, with and without lashings of peppers and onion. I have yet to find any as good as the ones I make, simply because I always make enough roasted or boiled potatoes to ensure a good stock of leftovers, and precooked potatoes are far and away the best basis for good home fries, but there are pretty decent ones to be found anyway.

    1. For me, the only proper breakfast potato is hash browns, properly done with a golden crust. Swiss kartoffel rosti are the ultimate rendition of hash browns, made from all-purpose potatoes, boiled until 3/4 done the night before, refrigerated, and shredded just before frying in flavorful fat or oil.

      If I go out for breakfast and all they offer are cottage potatoes or other non-hash browns, I'll order french toast instead of eggs (I feel that strongly about it.)

      1. Why don't you post this on the toronto board?

        1. I love for breakfast:

          Eggs poached or steamed, hash browns with the golden crunchy crust on the outside but the soft texture of the potato on the inside, well salt and peppered and lots of tabasco. If at home its the "hot" version of Pico Pica Sauce (which is getting harder to find). I just love potatoes!

          1. At least two places in Alameda do home fries with breakfast, Jim's Cafe, Park and Lincoln and Tillie's on Webster. They are as you describe, complete with onion and green pepper, don't know if I've seen any bacon in either one.

            So, it you happen to be in Alamead around breakfast time, give 'em a try.

            1. Jimbosox04's alternative recipe for home fries to make at home has been moved to the Home Cooking board so all our Home Cooking Hounds can benefit. You can find it over here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/342830