When it comes to the breakfast potato, I usually prefer a classic diner hash brown, but those can be a pain to make from scratch. (The shredding, followed by wringing out moisture, is just too much for a morning.) Home fries seem like a better home cook option, but the perfect bite of crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside potato is difficult to achieve with a frying pan alone. For truly delicious home fries, you need to get basic — as in, a pH that’s greater than seven.
Similar to Serious Eats’ crispy roasted potatoes, these home fries harness the alkalinity of baking soda, which breaks down the outside of the potato to help create a starchy, kinda mushy outer layer that, in turn, turns into a super crisp crust.
Unlike the Serious Eats recipe — which is designed for large chunks of potato — we don’t shake our potatoes in a bowl to help break down the outer layer. Because home fries are so small, simply pushing them around in a pan with some bacon grease creates the needed friction. I like using russet potatoes for home fries; although they don’t get as dark as Yukons, they cook up into delightful little nuggets with wonderfully fluffy insides with a pale golden crust. To make them, you will need:
2 large russet potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 litre of water
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons bacon grease (or any other fat you prefer)
Bring a litre of water with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to a boil. In the meantime, dice the potatoes. Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes, then let the water return to a boil. Let them cook for about five minutes, until the potato pieces can be easily pierced with a knife.
Remove the potatoes from the water with a sieve, then place them in a large nonstick pan. (Do not use a stainless steel pan, as it will steal your delicious potato crust, no matter how much oil you use.)
Heat the pan over high heat and let some of the moisture from the potatoes evaporate for a minute. Add the grease, and give everything a stir with a spatula to evenly coat the potatoes. Than let the potatoes cook until a crispy crust forms, 20-30 minutes, flipping every once in a while to make sure they don’t burn. Serve immediately.