Whether in diners or cozy breakfast nooks at home, every good cook should have a recipe for home fries in his or her arsenal. And this is it. Starting with raw potatoes means a longer cooking time, but they require little more than an occasional stir while you’re figuring out your weekend. If you want to double the serving, make it in two skillets.–Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison
What’s the difference between home fries and hash browns?
Whereas hash browns are made with grated potatoes, home fries call for chunks of potatoes that retain a pleasingly rustic charm about them. Hash browns tend to be flavored only with salt and, because of the smaller size of the potatoes, tend to retain a little more firmness to the potatoes. Home fries are often liberally spiced, as here, and are cooked until tender throughout.
Chunky Ranch-Style Home Fries
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- Salt and freshly milled black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper, or additional green bell pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, optional
- Minced chives or flat-leaf parsley leaves, optional
- Warm the butter in a 10- to 12-inch (25- to 30-cm) cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the potatoes to coat with a bit of butter, season them with salt and pepper and cover the skillet. Cook for 20 minutes, during which you should hear only a faint cooking sound.
- Uncover the potatoes and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the onion, bell peppers, and, if desired, chili powder and pat everything back down into a single layer. Continue to cook, uncovered, for 20 more minutes, stirring once and patting them down again. As the potatoes soften, pat them down more lightly, bringing as much of their surface in contact with the skillet as possible without mashing them.
- Cook the potatoes for about 20 minutes longer, stirring them every 5 minutes. During the last 10 minutes, bring the heat up to medium and, if you wish, add more salt and pepper. The home fries are ready when the potato cubes are richly browned and clearly crisp with tender, melting centers.
☞ TESTER TIP: Although you might be tempted to turn up the heat too early, that would be a mistake. The potatoes need adequate time to cook through before too much browning takes place.
- Immediately plate the home fries, scatter with chives if desired, and serve. Originally published April 15, 2002.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
The home fries looked and tested just like diner style home fries. They did take some patience but otherwise are simple to put together. They were well seasoned, crunchy on the inside, and super soft on the inside. They also reheated well for breakfast the next day!
This recipe is exactly the potato recipe I needed for shelter-at-home. Making them is almost a meditation ritual: all it asks for is your trust and patience.
After I spread the potatoes in the skillet and adjusted the heat to maintain a bare whisper, I had serious doubts about whether the potatoes would cook at all. Trust the potatoes. In fact, it is liberating to not have to pay much attention to them at all, apart from the occasional turning. You now have over an hour to take care of other things. Start the coffee maker, prep a frittata or make a fruit salad, or get some morning reading in. Do they take the full 70 minutes? Yes, but they’re worth every second.
This recipe really spoke to me because the process and taste reminded me so much of my great-grandmother’s “Mountain Breakfast Potatoes.” Every year at Labor Day we would trek up to her cabin in the mountains and the whole extended family would camp in her front yard. My dad and I used to wake up early and help her make breakfast: the home fries were always the thing that slowly sat on the stove and cooked in the background while she made buttermilk biscuits, scrambled eggs, and a ton of coffee. It has been 11 years since I’ve had them and these really brought me back to her kitchen. She was pretty insistent that, “Kid, everything tastes better in the mountains,” but I’m confident she would have approved of these potatoes.
I found that “only a faint cooking sound” meant as low as possible on my stovetop, so use your ears rather than the medium-low indication to do what works for you. If you don’t have cast-iron, a nonstick will work fine since that’s the only pan I had with a lid that sealed tightly for the first 20 minutes. They still managed to cook through with silky interiors and golden-brown crisp exteriors.
Finally, if you don’t have other ideas for how to use the leftover onion/peppers, just cut them all up and pre-portion/freeze the rest so you can grab them out of your freezer for easy home fries in the future! They make a great canvas for other flavors, but are delightful all by themselves. If you have hungry mouths to feed, plan to make two skillets at once, because you won’t want to share.
These taste like the home fries you might get in a diner. They’re quite good, though they do take a while to fry–a whopping 70 minutes. They’re worth it for the occasional Sunday brunch. They’re great with eggs or as a side dish to almost any meat.
In this time of self isolation, comfort food has taken on greater importance than ever. What could be better than home fries to fill that role? As food shopping has become a commonplace challenge these days, I was happy to find a recipe which used items I already had in store.
This recipe hit the spot in so many ways. It provided the perfect side dish to a steak dinner, along with a side of steamed asparagus. It would be equally at home on the breakfast table. The end product was tasty and visually appealing, and although the recipe supposedly serves 4, my family of 3 had no trouble polishing it off.
A couple of thoughts to ensure your success: Allow adequate time for the potatoes to brown fully. Although you might be tempted to turn up the heat too early, that would be a mistake. The potatoes need adequate time to cook through before too much browning takes place. Al dente is fine for pasta, but not so much for potatoes. Do not be tempted to increase the quantity of potatoes unless you are using two frying pans. These home fries will not do well with crowding. Do be generous with your salt and pepper, and go for the optional chili powder.
This dish does require a bit of babysitting, especially towards the end, so it is best paired with something which is more hands off. If you are looking for homey comfort food, look no further.
With a 5lb. bag of Russet potatoes staring at me from the pantry, this crazy-good potato recipe was a no-brainer! I love when humble ingredients like potatoes, onions and peppers come together so easily to make a really memorable dish like this one.
The sprinkling of chili powder onto the crisp yet tender potatoes really added a depth-of-flavor here; as did the low-and-slow cooking method. I would love to try this dish again with some chopped fresh jalapeno added into the mix…
These are the type of potatoes that everyone wants on the side of an omelette and bacon at breakfast or even with a BBQ pork loin dinner like we had last night. At first I was thrown to see how long the potatoes actually cooked in the cast-iron pan, but as the process got started it really was worth the time! The potatoes at this medium-low heat were able to brown up nicely and crisp on the outside, while becoming melt-in-your-mouth tender on the interior.
At first I thought this recipe will take too long, but after the initial prep work this does not require too much attention. The potatoes cook nice & slow while you can putter around in the kitchen. The potatoes had a nice kick from the chili powder, and they did cook up crispy with a nice soft center. We liked this recipe, ingredients were readily available and easy to make.