Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mom's Best Home Fries

I grew up in a household, and community, that ate breakfast. Big breakfast. The kind of breakfast that sticks with you until well after lunch time, unless breakfast was at 6 am and the hours in between were spent working on the chain gang that passed as pulling your own weight around the farm. Whether it was weeding, pulling brush, trimming whatever needed to be trimmed, mom's breakfasts were substantial enough that you could never complain of hunger and have a wisp of a chance at being taken seriously.

  One of my favorite staples that showed up at breakfast time (and often dinner too) were the humble fried potatoes. I think in order to make them properly you have to be sufficiently distracted during the preparation process that you don't spend a lot of time fussing and turning them as they cook. In fact, the process of distraction has to begin the night before when baking the potatoes.

 The best home fried potatoes start the night before. Mom would often toss potatoes coated in oil in the oven to bake and then not remove them all when she turned off the oven and pulled out the roast. This was in the interest of keeping them warm, and the result was an over baked potato that looked a bit shriveled with the peel beginning to naturally separate from the flesh due to lack of moisture. Her discovery of the forgotten potatoes usually occurred around bedtime, but would sometimes not occur until the next morning.

 Either way, the next day the potatoes would be sliced and diced and tossed into the hot pan that the morning breakfast meat, usually bacon or sausage, had just been cooked in. Dice up some onions to go along with it, season however you choose, and pop the lid on to retain as much moisture as possible. The heat should be on medium low to let a nice brown crust develop on the potatoes.

 This is where the lack of attention becomes critical. Walk away from them and do something else for 5 to 10 minutes. Go yell at the kids to get dressed. Intervene in some spat that has arisen. Start a load of laundry. Just go do something else or the urge to lift that lid and take a peek at the bottom of the spuds becomes unbearable.

From here on out until the potatoes are a nice crispy golden color, give them limited attention. Leave the lid on in between checking and flipping them over. Move them around real good in the pan so that more sides get a chance to develop that lovey golden crust. Just don't do this too often.

 Over time, you will learn to rely on your nose to alert you to impending disaster when cooking while distracted, so don't go too far away from the kitchen. After about 30 to 45 minutes, or sooner depending on how crispy you like them, take off the lid and turn off the heat. Hope that the crew is dressed and ready to impress and serve up the crispy taters with the rest of the breakfast fare and a big bottle of ketchup.

Thanks Mom for teaching me how to be appropriately distracted in the kitchen.