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I don’t know if you’ve noticed (I have), but Bon Appétit has a dearth of recipes for home fries. But every time I pitch it at a meeting, I’m shot down. Limp! the crowds cry. Mushy! they say. Under-seasoned! Cold! A waste of valuable diner plate real estate!
Clearly, none of those people have tried the home fries at Golden Diner in New York City. Chef Sam Yoo’s version is exceedingly crispy (as in, you hear a crunch when you take a bite), with buttery-soft insides. The eating experience is like popping a potato chip and a spoonful of mashed potatoes into your mouth at the same time. The first time I tried them (on a breakfast plate with two fried eggs and very well-buttered toast), I couldn’t figure out how they could inhabit two different realities at once. (My mom always told me that wasn’t possible!)
But the home fries at Golden Diner are so superior, as it turns out, because they’re essentially chopped-up French fries. Or technically chopped-up hash browns—which, in all honesty, are essentially flat, perfectly square French fries. (These get layered in the scallion milk bun breakfast sandwich—a recommendation for another story.)
It’s not easy to achieve such perfection: The process is multi-day and painstaking. Once the Idaho potatoes are scrubbed and shredded, they’re rinsed three times in cold water. Next, the strands are brined in a salt-vinegar solution to break down the potato for that luscious interior and infuse it with a slightly tangy flavor that, in Yoo’s words, “helps it taste more like a McDonald’s hash brown.” The drained potatoes are then steamed, immediately pressed into trays, weighed down with lots of heavy objects, and left to sit overnight. In the morning, the starches have bound the shreds into one homogenous cake, ready to be portioned into neat squares, deep-fried, and chopped up for the most perfect home fries. (If you think this kind of crunch can be achieved without deep-frying…well, then you are mistaken.)
Okay, so now that I know how much labor goes into these home fries, perhaps I’ll stop pitching the recipe for Bon Appétit. We’ll all just have to line up at Golden Diner instead.
Go there: Golden Diner
Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit