- potato - about 5-6 for a family of four
- onion - (optional)
- seasonings - garlic, onion salt, savory, lemon-pepper, any family favorites
- butter - 2 TBS (or margarine)
Any potatoes are fine. The firmer ones hold together better. If you use new potatoes (ones with thin skins), then don't worry about peeling. Just wash and slice with skins and all. If the potatoes are older or if the skins are thicker, you'll probably want to peel them.
Then, cut the potatoes in round slices about the thickness of an iPod Nano or think of a Hershey candy bar for cutting thickness (if you're not up on the new tech stuff). Try to keep the slices fairly similar in terms of thickness. It doesn't have to be real exact, but you don't want some potatoes an inch thick and others like paper.
Heat the butter/margarine in a skillet. Our skillet where I use 5-6 medium potatoes is about 12 inches. I generally use the Lodge cast iron, but I also have a coated non-stick pan that I use particularly if the potatoes are not as firm.
You can heat the pan while you're cutting the potatoes. Just keep an eye out and don't scorch the butter.
You want the butter in the low to low-medium range. If you hear a sizzle when you add the potatoes, then go a little lower. Otherwise you'll burn the potatoes on the bottom.
You can layer the potatoes and put onion and seasonings in a couple of time, or you can put all the potatoes in the pan and top with onion and seasonings. Since these are turned, the flavors do mix fine.
I usually put the onions on top and in wedges. My boys don't really like onions. They're easier to spot and pick out in wedges and still add that little flavor oomph. Also, the onions cook a little faster than the potatoes, so they'll burn if you have them on the bottom too soon.
Put a lid on the pan, but cock it a bit. You don't want too much moisture, but the potatoes cook much faster with some coverage.
Let the potatoes sizzle along. They'll start to look sweaty. Then, you'll start to smell the onions cooking. This is about 10 minutes from the time you put the potatoes in the pan.
Use a turner to flip the bottom potatoes up. Shift the potatoes around a bit to get the ones on top down to the bottom. Be gentle, or you're potatoes will start to fall apart.
You really don't want to flip the potatoes but a couple of times during the cooking. They need to be turned to get them all cooked, but they look prettier if you play with them less.
If the potatoes start to look dry, add some more butter. Just cut a little chunk and put it on top. It will melt down to the bottom.
I like my Pan Fried Potatoes crispy and light to dark brown. My sons like them soft and not colored. I take the top off when the potatoes are soft and let them cook a little longer so that the bottom layer is crispy. Then, I serve the boys first from the top softer potatoes and take the ones on the bottom. Generally these potatoes are served with the darker and lighter potatoes mixed. It's a nice flavor contrast, though I can't sell my boys on it.
All in all, it takes 20 minutes or so to make Pan Fried Potatoes. It does depend on how high you have the heat and how many potatoes are in the pan. But, that's a good ballpark figure.