Diner-Style Home Fries
feeding cravings & fueling memories
I woke up recently craving home fries. Not just any kind, but the ones you get in a good diner. You know, the ones studded with softened bits of onion and bell pepper. Potatoes so tender you can mash them with a fork, yet they still manage to hold their shape, and perfectly seasoned with salt, pepper and smoked paprika.
I rarely go to diners since moving out of New York City. Sure they exist everywhere but something about diners outside of the city limits is just different. I can’t quite explain it but I have a feeling anyone who grew up there would understand what I mean.
I’m not sure why I had this particular craving but I’m glad I gave into it. Forkful after forkful brought me back to the many diner breakfasts I enjoyed years ago with Mikey. Diners were a big part of our life together, and I’ve been missing him a lot lately. Cooking foods he enjoyed, or we enjoyed together, helps me feel connected.
The trick to great home fries is a twice-cooked method for the potatoes. You start with a quick boil, just long enough so the potatoes start are barely tender. This lends a fluffy texture to the home fries that simply roasting or sauteing in a pan doesn’t deliver.
Once the potatoes are cooked and drained, you can get started on sauteing the peppers and onions. I dug out my cast iron skillet to cook this batch of home fries, and was reminded of the time I hid it in the car the morning we were packing to leave for our last Cape Cod vacation in the summer of 2010. The house we rented had skillets but I wanted my skillet for this trip. I tucked it under the front passenger seat in hopes he wouldn’t see it because the car was already bursting with necessities for our two week trip.
When he came across it while packing the car, he immediately said “why do you need to bring this skillet”. I looked at him and said “if the skillet stays, then so does your guitar”. For two weeks, he happily strummed his guitar while I made meal after meal in my cast iron skillet, including home fries for breakfast on a few mornings.
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