Monday, January 18, 2016

Frugal Recipe: Easy Diner-Style Home Fries

Last year, for Father's Day, I decided that we could all go out to a restaurant for breakfast to celebrate (my husband loves eating breakfast out). It was a very good breakfast, but when we got the bill, oh my! Fifty dollars for the five of us who were eating! It actually worked out to be more to eat breakfast at this particular restaurant than it did to eat dinner. The kids' drinks were all billed separately instead of being included with the kids' meals, and their portions were much smaller.

One reason I think breakfast costs more is that it can take a lot of time to make. I love home fries, for example, but the constant standing over the stove to turn them and the risk of burning them makes me shy away. So today I'd like to share with you my two top tricks to making easy diner-style home fries.

Trick #1: The cooking method

It was only recently that I decided to try a trick I think I read in Cooks' Illustrated: after you dice up your potatoes, microwave them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for about 4 minutes. This pre-cooks them enough to allow them to only need maybe 5 minutes in the skillet to crisp up.

Trick #2: The seasoning

When I worked overseas, another expat whose family used to run a deli told me that when he worked there, he learned that the best secret to making great home fries is to cook them first, and then coat them with a mixture of paprika and salt - that's it! But I would go further and say that you can make your home fries extra-special by experimenting with seasonings - perhaps some Spanish smoked paprika, or ground Chipotle chili-powder, a touch of cumin, or others.

My recipe is not concise - it often depends on how many fries I want to make, but here is a rough estimate:

Easy Diner-Style Home Fries

4 medium potatoes (I like red, but Russets and Yukon Golds can also work), peeled and diced
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
Paprika and salt

(this would serve maybe 4 people - I make one potato per serving)

Place the diced potatoes in a microwave-proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 4 minutes. Then, heat the oil in a non-stick or seasoned cast iron skillet until shimmering. Add the potatoes and sautee until crisp and cooked (5-6 minutes). Sprinkle lightly with paprika and salt.

* note: you can also add diced onions to this recipe if you'd like - try microwaving them with the potatoes to pre-cook them before adding to the pan.


  1. Another tip, if you ever make baked potatoes, make extra. When they are cool, dice up. You can even freeze them at this point. Makes for much faster breakfasts.

  2. That's a great tip - it would save me much more time that way - thanks!

  3. Tonight we made your diner-style fries, and they were so good! I'd noticed the picture on your site several times. (My husband did the cooking tonight, and made a Chick-Fil-A style sandwich - along with your fries it certainly took care of our fast-food 'need').


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