Home fries. On the Burton menu every week. Family loves them, easy to prepare, taste amazing, and they're good for you. Yes, potatoes are good for you. How did our poor spuds get such a bad rap. Well, we know how. Atkins, anyone? But we know potatoes are good for us, and are just plain good to eat!
After this post, Teresa asked about varieties of potatoes, and what type to use for different recipes. I'll cover some basics, and then move on to tell you how to make those delicious home fries.
Potatoes are classified as starchy, all-purpose (medium starch), and low starch, or waxy. This is not how they are labeled in stores, though. We see "Russet", "Red Potatoes", "White Potatoes", and some other varieties like new potatoes and blue (purple) potatoes. So, which is which and how do we use them? (note: if you have TEV, you can also see p.32)
The very common Russet potato is a starchy potato. These spuds bake up with a dry, mealy, fluffy texture that doesn't hold it's shape. They are often used for baked potatoes and mashed potatoes, but can also be used for fries.
The common 'white' potato is a medium-starch/all-purpose potato. Yukon Gold (lower right) also falls in this category. Yukon Gold has a yellow color flesh and its flavor is a little richer than the white variety. But, both White and Yukon Gold potatoes hold their shape better with their waxier textures. Very good for home fries, and also for boiling, and baking... as mentioned, the all-purpose tater.
Red potatoes, new potatoes (both on left), and other varieties like blue and fingerling are the low-starch, 'waxy' potatoes. These potatoes aren't great for mashing, but are stars for salad recipes, for boiling, and for pan roasting. Most of these spuds also have a natural creamy flavor.
When shopping for potatoes, be sure to look for firm potatoes, without cracks or splits, and with no green underhues. If some of your potatoes have a green hue under the skin, you can peel until the green is removed, but then you are taking away the skin that has so many nutrients.
There's your tater cheat sheet! But, don't fret about always having the right potato in your pantry. For very special recipes, like a potato salad you are making for a potluck, then sure, go shop for the potatoes called for in the recipe. But for day-to-day cooking, have some all-purpose potatoes on hand, and a few Russets, and you'll be fine.
Now, on to home fries! Shop for the all-purpose potato (though, I often make home fries with Russet or Red, and we are perfectly happy with those). Try to get a few larger, longer spuds so you can cut longer fries. If your potatoes are smaller, that's fine. You can still cut in short strips, or in rounds, or wedges, chunks, or half-moon's.
After washing/scrubbing your potatoes, simply cut into strips. Thicker strips will take longer to cook, but will also stay more tender, whereas thinner fries will get crispier. To make cutting easier, first remove a slice off one side of the potato, then use that flat side to stand the potato on your cutting board so it doesn't slip around (get the idea?). Now you can cut the potato in slices, and then those slices into strips.
Throw - well, don't actually throw, that could get messy :) - your fries on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toss with olive oil and/or coconut oil, and sprinkle with salt. You can also season with other herbs/spices if you like, but most times simplest is best (though a teaspoon or so of chopped fresh rosemary is a match made in tater heaven).
Bake the fries at about 400 for about an hour - less/more depending on thickness of fries. Be sure to toss the fries a couple of times through baking to help get the sides of the fries nice and golden. When done, sprinkle with a little extra sea salt. And eat up! Nummy.