Today I’m sharing a recipe that has been in my life since I was a small child. In all the German-style potatoes I’ve had in my life, none of the Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes) compare to my Dad’s. These are the potatoes he taught himself to make in college. They are the ultimate student food: cheap, easy, and comforting. Whenever he had to stay up late studying and needed a midnight snack, this was his go-to dish. According to him, these potatoes guaranteed a few knocks on his door at 2 AM when other hungry college students smelled the mouth-watering aroma of fried potatoes drifting through the halls late at night. Make these, and I guarantee you will get people wandering into your kitchen to see what smells so good!
The trick to making perfectly crispy potatoes is to LEAVE THEM ALONE. I mean this! When Papa instructed me as a young child how to cook these potatoes, not over-stirring the potatoes was rule number 1. They will never develop a nice crust if you keep turning them with a spatula (much like what I discussed in my last post about cooking mushrooms). In the 30 minutes it takes to prepare these, you probably only need to stir the potatoes 3-4 times. For best results, make sure you’re using a stainless steel or cast iron pan.
If you have a little more time on your hands, you don’t need to pre-boil the potatoes. Sometimes I just peel and dice the potatoes and fry them in oil, and you get the same crispiness but you have to wait longer for them to cook through. If you pre-boil your potatoes, you can fry them in butter and they will cook more quickly but still get a nice crust on them. Also, butter=flavor, so I’m a fan of the pre-boil method to get that extra layer of flavor in there.
And on a sweet little side note: To this day, whenever my Mom is sick, my Dad immediately cooks these fried potatoes for her. Fried potatoes may not be your first thought for food you want when you’re sick, but trust me—they have healing powers! They’re so savory and warm and comforting and honestly soup just doesn’t hold a candle to them. (Well, my Dad also makes a killer chicken soup… but that’s for another post!)
Serve these with fried eggs to complete the meal. Who doesn’t love a good egg yolk running around and gettin’ all nice and comfortable with crispy potatoes!?
Papa’s Fried Potatoes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2.5 pounds potatoes (I used Yukon Gold), peeled
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
3 slices bacon, finely diced (optional—I usually make mine without to keep it vegetarian and they are delicious either way!)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Very fat pinch of salt & pepper
Eggs, for frying
- In a large pot, cover the potatoes with water. Over medium heat, allow the potatoes to softly boil for around 15-20 minutes. You want the potatoes to still have some firmness to them; you’re not looking to cook them completely through.
- Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool slightly.
- When the potatoes have cooled, cut them in half and dice them into bite-size pieces.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the diced potatoes and once they are distributed throughout the pan, let them sit. Let them sit a good 5 minutes before you even think about picking up that spatula again.
- Stir the potatoes and add in the diced bacon. Let everything sit in the pan for another 5 minutes.
- While you’re waiting on the potatoes, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add the diced onion. Allow these to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the onion to the pan with the potatoes and stir. By this point you should be seeing a nice golden brown crust on your potatoes. Season the whole pan generously with salt and pepper. Top the potatoes with the fresh chopped chives.
- Fry desired amount of eggs in butter and serve alongside potatoes.