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Dec 27, 2007 07:25 PM

The Secrets of Good Homefries

Ask Metafilter doesn't often cover cooking, but when it does, it's usually insightful, as it's an intense, distilled community of smart people without a lot of chatter and inanity (sort of like Chowhound!).

They have a very active and interesting thread going on about making great homefries:

If anyone has comments on the topic in general or the metafilter suggestions, specifically, I'd love to hear them. I'm hoping to one day devise a relatively healthy home fry recipe that still tastes good.

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  1. I haven't yet checked out metafilter but I think the first step is to start with a baked or otherwise cooked 'tater and saute onions and garlic and diced green/red bell pepper and either slices or clumps of the 'taters with butter or a good substitute (olive oil or Earthbalance) and garlic in the highest heat the fat will stand before smoking/burning the food...and Tabasco of course!

    14 Replies
    1. re: jbyoga

      The problem I always have starting with cooked potatoes is they fall apart so easily.

      As for the green/red bell pepper, I can try to forgive you.

      1. re: Jim Leff

        Maybe you could try cooking the potatoes a little less before making the hashbrowns - so that they are still a little firm/crunchy, letting the heat from making the hashbrowns cook complete the cooking process.

        1. re: MMRuth

          That's what I do, and it works great.

          Besides that, onions are a must, and I like to season with salt and cumin.

          1. re: piccola

            quick note, I know many of my fellow forumites are penzeys-crazies, but their powdered cumin is really REALLY better than the norm. Amazing diff. Might want to try it.

            1. re: Jim Leff

              Does Penzey's roast the cumin before grinding it? They don't mention it. A tremendous improvement in flavor.

              Make your own by toasting raw cumin seeds for about 45-60 second in a hot, heavy pot or skillet. Remove to a spice grinder and, well....grind. Heaven.

              1. re: toodie jane

                You're the third person this week to insist that it's better to roast and grind from seed. But if you get a chance, just smell Penzey's powdered cumin. I can't believe that life (let alone powdered spice) could get much better than that.

                I like Penzey's very much (though I wish they'd broaden their spice line rather than move increasingly into blends for newbies). But nothing transcends McCormick's like their powdered cumin...

        2. re: Jim Leff

          To prevent the potatoes from falling apart, use waxy (not russet) spuds and cook them in a non-stick skillet.

          1. re: alanbarnes

            do you get a good crunchy crust in nonstick?

            1. re: Jim Leff

              > do you get a good crunchy crust in nonstick?

              Yes, but you need a decent amount of oil and/or butter, and the temperature has to be right - too low and they don't crust up. too high and they cook unevenly and can scorch. Use a big enough pan that they're not too crowded, and turn them often and carefully - my wife says I obsess when doing this, but my son says my home fries are way better than hers! ;-)

            2. re: alanbarnes

              The red bliss or white new potatoes are what I use. I cube then cook them in the microwave for about 7 minutes first. Then you get the pan very hot, put in a little canola oil and fry the potatoes until golden and crispy. I always add onion. Delish!!!

              1. re: Neta

                ah! that's a good one! the nuker!

            3. re: Jim Leff

              A trick I learned from Sara Moulton is that if you cook the potatoes the night before and refrigerate overnight, they become firm.

              1. re: Marge

                I do it that way. I put the potatoes (red) whole into a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for just a minute or two. Then i let them sit in the hot water until I have time to deal with them..usually 10 minutes or so. I run them under cold water until they are cool, drain and chill whole. Then I cube or slice, toss with seasoning & olive oil, and peppers, onions or whatever and cook in the morning. Yummy!

              2. re: Jim Leff

                place chopped potatoes in cold water, than removing when water begins to boil, works for myself, soft on the outside yet firm in the middle

            4. Red potatos or Yukon Golds, parboiled first. (The refrigerating sounds good...)

              Paprika towards the end adds great color and flavor -- hot, sweet, smoked -- whatever you like. No bell peppers of any color unless you're serving Chalula on the side.

              1. I use yukons, about 1" cubes, with a chopped sweet onion and a little salt in a generous amount of olive oil. The potatoes aren't parboiled, and are cooked covered on medium heat until they soften, turning them over and adding more olive oil and a little salt if needed near the end. It takes quite a bit of oil to help them brown and to keep the potatoes from seeming dry.

                The onions get carmelized, and it's a pretty tasty side.

                    1. re: BobB

                      I used goose fat to cook up some cracked potatoes (baby yukons from my local farmer's market) for Christmas and they were AMAZING. My husband just loved him and he is -- to put it kindly -- a less than adventurous eater. He's always refused to try my Christmas goose -- I have to make him a standing rib roast. But he keeps going on and on about how the cracked potatoes were the best ever and I just sit here smirking. I'll never tell.

                      1. re: Fuser

                        It's the miracle ingredient! My wife is Russian and she'll cook just about anything in goose fat.

                  1. Cook's Illustrated had a recipe, which included par-boiling the potatoes for seven minutes (I think), then frying them in a single layer - which works really well for me.