The blog of cooking-ez.com

Fried potatoes or fried mash?


18K 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
The right bread knife
The right bread knife
We almost all have a bread knife in our kitchen, that is to say the knife we use almost exclusively to cut bread. Is this knife efficient, is it really the one you need? Here is some information to guide you in your choice. .
2,877 September 15th 2022
Parmesan cheese crusts
Parmesan cheese crusts
If you use Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano) in your recipes, you may have already noticed: when you grate it, it becomes (very) difficult near the crust, especially if it is a slightly aged parmesan, as the cheese gets harder and harder. So we stop grating, leaving some crust on top, and a...
5,7894.6 September 14th 2022
The gelling agent in a cream
The gelling agent in a cream
If you start making a Bavarian cream for example, or any other that contains a gelling agent such as gelatin or agar-agar, you will sooner or later be confronted with the problem: How to properly incorporate this gelling agent into my cream? (and we will focus on gelatin).
5,1774.9 June 18th 2022
The preservation of bread
The preservation of bread
Eating fresh bread is always a delight, the crust crumbles deliciously, you take full advantage of the taste of your bread (80% of this taste is in the crust), it is a fleeting moment to enjoy. Who hasn't already eaten the crouton or croutons of his baguette, on the way back from the bakery? ...
6,1623 June 11th 2022
Beans in primeur
Beans in primeur
As I write this, it is the beginning of the short season for fresh beans. If you've never made them before and you're just starting out (and that's a great idea) you'll find that it's a bit time consuming to prepare, you have to shell them once, remove the beans, scald them to remove the skin (and...
5,090 June 4th 2022
Other pages you may also like
Fruits which can ruin your jelly
Fruits which can ruin your jelly
There are many ways of making a fruit mousse, but one of the simplest is to prepare a fruit jelly (basically a fresh fruit coulis with gelatine) and then mix this jelly before it sets completely with whipped cream. The result is perfect for filling a charlotte, for example. But do beware;...
55K3.7 March 6th 2013
Making the most of seeds: Dry roasting
Making the most of seeds: Dry roasting
In cooking, and particularly in baking, there are a lot of seeds we can use, such as linseed, sesame, poppy, etc. Usually, recipes simply say to add them just as they are to the mixture or dough. To make a seeded loaf, for example, prepare a plain bread dough as usual, then, towards the end of...
48K3.2 January 30th 2015
A few tips for effective kneading at home
A few tips for effective kneading at home
When you have to knead dough for bread or some other recipe, you may well use a food processor or the type of machine known as a stand mixer. The best-known brands are Kenwood and KitchenAid. They are useful tools, but here are a few tips to help you get the best out of them.
240K 23.4 June 23th 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...
9,8335 June 30th 2021
Drawing a pattern in pastry
Drawing a pattern in pastry
Often in the kitchen, in pastry-making, or in baking, we need to trace a pattern on a pastry. It's just a question of aesthetics but it has its effect after baking on a galette, pithiviers, pâté en croute (terrine in a pie crust), etc.
14K3.4 May 23th 2019
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