Home Fries

February 26, 2012

I know that potatoes are scorned and avoided, and it’s always the same half-word offered as justification: “Carbs”. Personally, I love potatoes. They are my favorite side dish and Russets are my favorite variety, so right away I knew I was going to love this recipe. Pre-heating the baking sheet to 500-degrees did a great job at browning the potatoes’ crust, but without over cooking the interior. The interiors were creamy, but without being too mushy. Perfect mini-spuds; 4-stars.

Perfectly cooked; crisp and browned on the outside. Tender on the inside.

This is the last recipe from the January / February 2012 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. I left this for last not because I wasn’t excited to make them, but rather because I am not usually home for breakfast on the weekends. I naturally wake up by 6AM, and go to a cafe to blog and drink coffee while my family sleeps in until 9 or 10AM.


  1. Chris Kimball’s original recipe made a huge amount of home fries. After all, the article was entitles “home fries for a crowd”.  I cut the recipe down by one-third, and still ended up with leftovers. The recipe as I have described it below will easily serve 4 to 6 people as a side dish, but if you need to feed 6 to 8 people, then you can follow his original recipe.
  2. Chris Kimball almost never lines his baking sheet with aluminum foil, but I always do. Use heavy-duty foil for this recipe because of the scraping necessary in step 8 and 10.
  3. No matter how heavy-duty of a baking sheet you have, 500-degrees will make it warp with 100% certitude. Mine returned to its normal state within an hours after removing from the oven. I wouldn’t recommend this recipe if you only have a thin baking sheet.
  4. My supermarket was out of chives, so I substituted an equal amount of finely minced scallion greens. With this warm weather my own chives should be sprouting soon.

Rating: 4-stars
Cost: $2.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Started: 8:00 AM.  Ready:  9:00 AM

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

2-1/3 pounds russet potatoes
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 yellow onions
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives

  1. Peel your potatoes and dice into 3/4″ pieces, and cut your 2 tablespoons of butter into 8 equal-sized pieces.
  2. Set an oven rack to the lowest position, and place a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack. Pre-heat the oven and baking sheet to 500-degrees.
  3. Set a dutch oven over a high burner and boil 8 cups of water. Add diced potatoes and 1/3 teaspoon baking soda. Return water to a boil and cook for just 1 minute.
  4. Drain potatoes in a colander and immediately return potatoes to the dry Dutch oven; reduce burner to low heat. Cook for 2 minutes until all moisture has dried from the surface of the potatoes, shake the pot occasionally to ensure complete drying. Remove Dutch oven from burner, and add the pieces of butter, 1 teaspoons salt, and pinch of cayenne.
  5. Use a rubber spatula to mix for 30 seconds; the potatoes will become coated with a thick paste.
  6. Drizzle foil-lines rimmed baking sheet with 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, then evenly spread potatoes onto baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 500-degrees for 15 minutes. Meanwhile dice your onions into 1/2″ pieces and place in bowl. Add 3/4 tablespoon vegetable oil, and 1/3 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss to combine.
  8. Remove potatoes from oven after 15 minutes, then use a thin metal spatula to scrape and turn potatoes.
  9. Clear a 8″x5″ area in center of the baking sheet in which you should place your onion mixture. Bake for another 15 minutes at 500-degrees.
  10. Using the metal spatula to scrape and turn potatoes again, but this time mixing the onions and potatoes together.
  11. Bake for another 5 or 10 minutes until the potatoes become browned and the onions become soft and are beginning to brown.
  12. Mix in minced chives and adjust with salt and pepper according to taste. Serve immediately.

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