Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Home Again

When I was a kid, we had a fairly predictable weekend routine. Saturdays were always for winding down and sunny Sundays usually began with brunch and ended with seemingly interminable trips to the Home Depot. But on those gloomy, rainy winter days when getting out of bed, or worse, getting out of pajamas seems impossible, we turned to each other when hunger struck. Although he generally spent little time in the kitchen, weekend breakfast was my dad's forte. The whole thing usually started with steak and egg sandwiches on French bread. After a few cups of coffee (I loved it even as a kid) I'd whip up a big batch of scrambled eggs and he'd fry up a few minute steaks. The whole thing would go between two pieces of bread dipped in the steak's pan drippings. But the sandwiches weren't the best part.

Although our main dishes may have changed over the years, there was no removing our home fries from the menu. They were always there, a big heaping bowlful fresh from the frying pan, still glistening and streaked with smoked paprika. There's nothing we liked more than home fries in those days, and we ordered them in droves when eating out, but not one restaurant version could compare with the ones we made at home. There were no peppers or heaps of onions and burned garlic in ours, just sliced potatoes covered in spices and fried in oil. Home fries are the one exception I make for onion and garlic powder other than rubs. The best home fries are fried in oil, in a frying pan, on high heat. The worst home fries I've had are dry cooked on a flat top or baked in the oven. The best are fried because it allows for the right texture inside and out and helps the potatoes stay moist (yay grease!). Powdered onion and garlic works best because fresh garlic would burn, whereas the powdered does not, and actually permeates the entire potato with flavor.

It seems simple, but you'd be surprised at how many bad home fries there are out there. It's shocking how little thought people give to this wonderful side dish. I gave it quite some thought this weekend when, despite the sun, I began to crave the home fries of my youth. Fortunately, I had an entire bag of potatoes wasting away in the fridge just begging to be made into a delicious breakfast treat. Twenty minutes later I had the lovely plate of potatoes you see before you. It's deceptively easy to make, and you don't have to tell anyone about the onion powder.

Easy Home Fries

4-5 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1 inch pieces about 1/8 inch thick
2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sugar
vegetable oil (or your favorite light oil) for frying

1. Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan or skillet until hot but not smoking.

2. Toss potatoes with onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, sugar, salt and pepper. Add to oil and fry on high heat for 8-10 minutes, then reduce heat to medium. Turn potatoes periodically until cooked through. Enjoy!


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