For a simple weekend brunch, no matter what the main course, I always crave a side of home fries. The humble potato is truly transformed into something exceptional when fried up alongside slivered onion and whatever else you may please, from the most rudimentary (salt and pepper) to something more hip and funky (green pepper, tomato and avocado). While I’m basically a purist when it comes to home fries, I do like them flavorful.
Over the weekend, we cooked up a batch of my favorite version of home fries. The process is incredibly easy. I had just started thinking about it, so asked myself three essential questions:
1) Feel like potatoes? Yep.
2) Feel like spice? But of course.
3) Have both in the house, and about 20 minutes to spare? Jackpot! Okay, then–let’s party!
I came up with this combination (likely not entirely original, I’ll venture) because we always have steak spice in the house for the HH’s carnivorous forays. I love spicy food, and the aroma of that particular combination of spices and seeds really sets my nose tingling. Well, I decided, if I won’t put the spice on steak, why not try it out on one of my favorites–home fries? The result worked amazingly well. Never mind the steak–just give me a plate of these, please, and I’m happy.
I’ll often do up a cheater’s version of this dish if I’m strapped for time. Like Johanna and her roasted carrots with dukkah, or Heidi and her friend’s skillet smashed potatoes, I’ll partially cook the potatoes before adding to the frypan, as I’ve found that, unless you overdo it and cook them completely, the dish isn’t really diminished by this move. If you begin with parboiled potatoes, you’re looking at no more than 15 minutes before you can dig into some browned, caramelized, crunchy-on-the-outside-creamy-on-the-inside potato contentment.
In fact, I love this recipe so much that I considered submitting it to “The Potato–A Blog Event” hosted by Eating Leeds, but I’ve decided I’ll just give the event a nod in this post, as I’ve got another potato-y prize in store for the event (which I’ll post later in the month). In the meantime, enjoy this super-easy way to cook up America’s favorite vegetable.
(“Mum, those do look great, but you know we’ll have to pass because we can’t have that onion. Sometimes you can be so heartless. . . “).
Montreal or Chicago Spiced Home Fries
This is a quick and easy way to provide a great side dish to a brunch or any protein main course. Feel free to adjust the spice to your own preferences.
4 large Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 2″ (about 4.5 cm) chunks (leave the skin on)
2 medium onions (or more–they do shrink down!), sliced thinly in half-moons
2-4 Tbsp. (30-60 ml.) extra virgin olive oil
about 1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) Montreal steak spice, or Chicago-style steak spice*
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add potatoes and allow to boil for about 7 minutes, until just fork-tender. (Don’t overboil, or these will turn to mush in the frypan!) Alternately, if you’re okay with a microwave, you can nuke these until just soft.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cover the pan and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and just turning golden.
Add the potato chunks to the pan, stir well to coat with the onion/oil mixture, and sprinkle with the steak spice. Continue to fry for about 5 minutes at a time before stirring, until the potato chunks are browned and have accumulated some nice crispy bits on them, another 10 minutes or so. Remove to a serving dish and dig in. Makes 4-6 servings.
*we used Botanica brand, from Costco–it’s a mix of salt, dehydrated garlic and onion, plus herbs and spices; they mention only turmeric and paprika, but there are definitely others in there, such as peppercorns and perhaps some caraway. For the ingredient list of President’s Choice Montreal steak spice (probably better), check here.
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