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I love fried potatoes, and I love them even more when there are some delicious vegetables mixed in, like onions and bell peppers.

The problem is that I can't figure out how to cook all these things so that I end up with crispy potatoes with the cooked onions and peppers.

I've tried a few methods:

  1. Cook onions at the beginning, then add potatoes. Result: overcooked onions, mushy potatoes.
  2. Cook the potatoes, get them about how I want them, then add onions&peppers and cook. Result, good peppers&onions, soggy potatoes.
  3. Cook the potatoes, remove them from pan and set aside, cook onions and peppers, add cooked potatoes and toss. Result: almost what I want. this might be the best way to go, but still end up with slightly soggy potatoes.

Are there any factors I'm missing that could give me better results? I've had better results at restaurants before, so I know it's possible...

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#3, but reverse the sequence. Cook the onions and peppers, set them aside. Wipe out the pan, cook the potatoes. Add back the peppers and onions just long enough to get them hot again. –  DrRandy Jun 28 at 15:35
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Put that as an answer @DrRandy –  ElendilTheTall Jun 28 at 19:55
    
@DrRandy Honestly didn't mean to steal your answer; just didn't read the comments. –  Chris Steinbach Jun 28 at 20:24
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I assume this is a followup to : cooking.stackexchange.com/q/6667/67 –  Joe Aug 1 at 19:30
    
@Joe haha, yup, 4 years later and I'm still trying to master fried potatoes. I've gotten much better though! At least at cooking the potatoes alone... –  TJ Ellis Aug 2 at 16:20

4 Answers 4

You probably should keep #3, but use a much higher temperature for the vegetables.

Non-starchy vegetables contain lots of water. If you shallow fry them at a leisurly pace, their juices flow out and stay in the pan, making everything a bit soft. You also get a bit less grilled-like taste.

If you saute them instead, you'll end up with dry vegetables. Their juices will evaporate the moment they hit the pan. When you add the potatoes, they will stay crisp.

You'll have to use a non-nonstick pan for that, it needs temperatures which will destroy a PTFE coating.

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You have a fourth option, to saute the onions and peppers first, remove them from the pan, fry the potatoes and then reintroduce the vegetables and toss just before serving.

The vegetables will continue to release water while they are waiting, so it might be an idea to sit them in a strainer placed over a bowl.

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If you're going to remove the potatoes from the pan, you need to be careful about how you store them.

If they're just thrown into a bowl and left there, they'll sit there and steam, possibly softening the crust that you worked to develop. You can avoid this by spreading them out on a baking sheet, or a wire rack, but you instead have the problem of them cooking off too much.

Personally, I go with something closer to your #2.

  1. I start with par-cooked potatoes (I make extra baked potatoes, let them cool, then put 'em in the fridge), cut into slabs. and coated in oil.
  2. When I have a good crust on one side, I flip the potatoes over, and get a crust on the second side, and add the onion (cut into thick rings) and peppers (cut into strips, laid on their cut side).
  3. When the onions have good color, I flip them over.
  4. When the peppers have good color, I flip them over.
  5. When the potatoes have gotten a good crust, I use my metal spatula to cut them into chunks (directly in the pan).
  6. When the onions and peppers have good color on both sides, I use my spatula to cut them into more bite-sized pieces.
  7. I stir the whole things together, adjust seasoning, and let cook through for another minute or so.

Possibly significant points:

  • I use a griddle, so there's less chance of collecting stem. (it's a 12" round cast iron griddle, which is just right for 1 potato + 1/2 an onion + 1/2 a bell pepper)
  • I'm starting with a cold potato and a pre-heated griddle.
  • I've done this a lot, so I know how thick I need to cut my onions (into 4 slices for a medium), about 1/2" (1.25cm) for the peppers) for the doneness I like and the cooking time.**
  • Leaving things in slabs gives me less surface area on the food, but more hot spots on the pan (for better evaporation of any liquid)
  • Leaving the onion in a slab ensures better contact with the pan and faster cooking. (you also don't lose heat to evaporation)

** a note on the cooking times : I have absolutely no idea. Basically, my bedroom and bathroom are right next to the kitchen, so my process is :

  1. start the pan pre-heating
  2. start the shower heating
  3. toss on the potatoes
  4. take a shower
  5. flip the potatoes, add onions & peppers
  6. get dressed
  7. flip the onions & peppers
  8. shave or quickly check e-mail
  9. cut everything up, (optional : scramble in a couple of eggs), season & finish cooking.
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If u wanna roast the potatoes..... I will roast potatoes for 20 minutes on 375, then sweat onions and peppers, add to top of potatoes, and continue roasting for 15-20 minutes. This allows the flavors of the onions to enter the potatoes without making the potatoes soggy, or giving them a "boiled" taste. That's what u want to avoid....the "boiled" taste.

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