The blog of cooking-ez.com

Fried potatoes or fried mash?


16K 8 3.6
Grade this page:

Last modified on: February 6th 2011

Fried potatoes or fried mash?

potatoes

In cooking there are a lot of dishes that appear to be extremely simple but which can actually prove to be very tricky. Amongst those that I'm aware of having this reputation are omelette and fried potatoes.

Take fried potatoes; it's very simple because it's all there in the name of the dish: you take potatoes and you fry them, full stop. What's so difficult about that? Well, it's all a matter of how you do it. If you get it wrong, you end up with what my Uncle Pierre called “purée grillée” (fried purée).*

How can anyone get it wrong? Very easily! You only need to treat it like almost anything else you fry in a pan, and stir the potatoes regularly so that they fry on all sides. This is done with the best of intentions, but alas, if you do this as the potatoes brown and cook – and it's even worse if you have sliced them – they become fragile and break up into smaller and smaller pieces, and you soon have my uncle's famous fried purée.

The aforementioned Uncle Pierre is quite a character, a great self-taught cook who had his own restaurant for many years in the Auvergne. He is larger than life, a great bearded chap with a flamboyant mop of hair, very endearing and a god in the kitchen. Unfortunately, less gifted as a manager than as a cook. I have fond memories of my teenage holidays staying with him, and if I have one regret, it's that I was not as passionate about cooking back then when he was a chef; I'd have been nosing around in his kitchen the whole time…

Whenever Pierre was faced with a young cook looking for a job or training, he liked to ask, “So, what do you know how to do?” (It must be said that Uncle didn't set much score by diplomas and the like) and once the extensive litany of dishes had been reeled off, he would say, “Fine, go on then. Make me some fried potatoes”. Most of the time the youngster, laughing up his sleeve and taking the request as just the whim of an old has-been, would set to work and produce… a fried purée.

I can just imagine my uncle leaving the kitchen with a smile on his face as he went down to the cellar to fetch the appropriate bottle to toast the imminent catastrophe.

This is not just something my uncle did, but a sort of cook's challenge. I once heard Joël Robuchon on television saying that during his time as a chef he often judged discreet omelette or fried potato competitions between cooks.

So, how can you be sure of ending up with proper fried potatoes? Bah – it's actually quite easy: first cover the pan and don't touch it for at least 40 minutes. It's hard to resist, but that's the secret. The more you stir, the more the potatoes break up. Once they're nice and golden brown on the bottom, then – and only then – you can start to turn them over gently to cook on the other side.

This is what Uncle Pierre taught me, and I'll allow myself to add this as well: don't add salt straight away, as this tends to make them stick to the pan, which only makes things more difficult.

For more information and details, see the recipe for fried potatoes.

[Translator's note: fried mashed potato (and its variant “bubble and squeak”) is a fine old traditional British dish in its own right, but involves a rather different method. Jean-Hugues has been informed!]



Back to top of page

Lasts posts
Remove bones from fish
Remove bones from fish
Let's talk about fish: It's not a scoop, it's much more pleasant to eat fish from which all the bones have been carefully removed, even if it's a rather painful and time-consuming job, the result is worthy of your efforts. Here are some important points to keep in mind.
617 October 16th 2021
Introduction to New Nordic Buffet Delicacies
Introduction to New Nordic Buffet Delicacies
Nordic delicacies reflect culinary proficiency from Nordic nations of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland. It features a range of simple and classic flavors and ingredients that produce satisfying meals when combined. As is the case in other regions, the flavors and ingredients often...
8,316 August 10th 2021 Sponsored article.
The time of the jams
The time of the jams
We are well into summer as I write this, and this is the time when most of the fruit is giving or about to give in full. And for many of us, it will also be the time for jams and jellies, one of the best ways to preserve fruit for the next winter.
18K3.8 July 12th 2021
Markers in cooking
Markers in cooking
When it comes to cooking, there is only one real rule, and that is that there are no rules! By that I mean that everything is possible, everything can be combined, everything or almost everything can go with everything, but you have to like it, you have to find it good. I have friends who...
2,0505 July 3rd 2021
The march forward
The march forward
When professionals get to work in their kitchen, lab or bakery, they are (if they are conscientious) very sensitive to hygiene and cleanliness. It is impossible for a good baker for example to do a day's work without regularly cleaning the table where he or she works, and it is even more...
6,7435 June 30th 2021
Other pages you may also like
Steam for baking bread
Steam for baking bread
What does steam have to do with bread-making? This is not only a bakers' secret, it is something you might not think of at all: if you make bread and bake it like a cake, you will end up with bread, but pale and with a thick, hard crust – a long way from the golden-brown crusty loaf you had in...
114K4.3 June 16th 2021
The window-pane test in bread-making
The window-pane test in bread-making
The home bread-makers often ask themselves “Have I kneaded my dough long enough?” . A good question, as dough that is insufficiently kneaded will not rise properly or will fall flat when the top is slashed, which is very frustrating. To know when the dough is ready, one can rely on the length...
68K 23.7 June 16th 2021
What can I use for blind baking a pastry case?
What can I use for blind baking a pastry case?
When it comes to home-made desserts, tarts are always popular. They can be divided into two basic types: those cooked with their filling, such as an apricot and almond cream tart, and those where the filling is added after baking the pastry case, such as a strawberry tart or chocolate tart. For...
71K4.1 May 2nd 2017
The golden-brown finish on puff pastry
The golden-brown finish on puff pastry
Let's take a look at the tricky matter of producing puff pastry with an attractive, golden-brown finish. French pastry chefs call this "dorure" (literally, "gilding"). Behind this quirky term there lurks a real problem (and the solution): when using puff pastry (pâte feuilletée) for a pie, or...
25K 24 February 8th 2018
85 grams of eggs?
85 grams of eggs?
Some time ago, I already spoke to you about the difference between baking and pastry-making, I emphasized, among other things, the precision of pastry-making which requires grams, cm, degrees and minutes. That's why, on the one hand, you have baking and cooking, where a certain tolerance is...
25K4.5 November 26th 2018
Post your comment or question
Posted by:
I am not a leaving thing
Follow this page
If you are interested in this page, you can "follow" it, by entering your email address here. You will then receive a notification immediately each time the page is modified or a new comment is added. Please note that you will need to confirm this following.
I am not a leaving thing
Note: We'll never share your e-mail address with anyone else.
Alternatively: you can subscribe to the mailing list of cooling-ez.com , you will receive a e-mail for each new recipe published on the site.

Back to top of page