Fred’s Fried Puhtaytuz – My Dad’s Recipe for Fried Potatoes

Not potatoes.  Not pertaters.  Not even ‘taters.  To my dad, they were puhtaytuz (puh TAY tuz).  He hailed from Hidalgo, Illinois.  Perhaps that pronunciation came from there.  Perhaps it came from the fact that, born in 1907, he attended school only through the 6th grade and then began working to help support the family.  The eldest son of 13 or so kids (he didn’t remember exactly how many were born), his father was away from home more than he was there when my dad was growing up.  My dad’s name was Fred.  Not Frederick, or Fredrick, just Fred.  No middle name, either….just Fred.


My parents both worked all of my childhood.  Dad at various jobs, ending with a couple of decades in business for himself painting houses; and my mom worked as a meat wrapper, before the days of automated meat wrapping machinery.  Mom’s days off were split, one mid-week and the other on Sunday.   Those were the days when businesses were closed on Sunday.  I wonder, how many of you remember that being the “law” of the land?  Mom’s job kept her at work until 6:00 p.m., but Dad’s jobs usually had earlier hours.  Sunday Mom always cooked a big dinner – a roast or chicken and all the trimmings.

On her one day off during the week, Mom usually made something in the pressure cooker – chicken and dumplings, beef and homemade noodles, corned beef and cabbage, even tongue.  Oh stop it!  Have you tried tongue?  It’s very similar in taste to corned beef, just tougher.  In all honesty, I’ve never been able to bring myself to buy it at the store.  It looks like exactly what it is – a big old nasty cow tongue!  Mom always started cooking it while I was at school, so I never saw it uncooked and/or in the package.  Ignorance, truly, is bliss in cases like beef tongue.

The other nights, the nights my mom worked until 6:00, Dad fixed dinner.  Now, you might think that given all of those years and years of dinnertime experience that he would have become quite a chef.  Not so.  Since Mom wrapped meat, she was frequently able to pull the marked down steaks out of the counter before the store opened in the morning, put them into the big coolers where the beef hung, purchase them after work and then stock our freezer at home.  Porterhouse steaks.  T-Bones.  Top Sirloin.  Steak, you see, became the staple of our diet.

Dad would broil steaks for the three of us, prepare a simple salad with iceberg lettuce cut into bite-sized cubes, and make a big skillet full of fried potatoes.  The only variation was the type of steak being cooked and the addition of tomatoes to the salad in the summer.  This was our dinner three nights each week, with a dinner out on Fridays and take out chicken brought home the other night.

Dad fried the potatoes the same way every night.  It started with a dollop of bacon grease out of the pitcher mom kept in the fridge, and ended with a generous sprinkling of table salt. When I make fried potatoes for my family, I always think of my dad.  Though fried potatoes will never qualify as a completely “healthy” dish, I do make them in a bit more healthy fashion than my dad.  Just a bit.  My children, and husband, love them.  Even though I’ve changed the fat that they cook in and the seasonings, I still prep and cut the potatoes just like Dad did.  I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

Copperswife’s Fried Potatoes (in memory of Fred’s Fried Puhtaytuz)



 One medium sized potato for each person you’ll be serving, plus, perhaps, one for the pot.  You know about the “one for the pot” rule with potatoes, right?  In any potato dish, use one medium potato per person; but add one extra for every four or five people.  For my family of five, I always use six medium size potatoes.  If there will be ten people for dinner, then I will prepare twelve potatoes.

Potatoes (see rule above for how many)
Canola Oil
Garlic Salt
Onion Salt
Black Pepper



Peel potatoes.  I peel mine fairly clean, but a bit of skin here and there won’t hurt anything.  Yes, yes, I know that leaving the peels on would be healthier, but I like to do them like Dad did, so the peels come off.

However, I do not toss the peels into the garbage.  They are added to the compost bucket (along with the day’s coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, vegetable peels and scraps, etc.).  The compost bowl may not be my favorite thing in the kitchen, but I LOVE the beautiful, rich, wonderful compost that it will become in less than a year, so it stays.  Okay, the picture is gross, but the end result is wonderful!!!



 Add a generous amount of Canola oil, about 1/4″ or so, to a skillet and turn heat to medium-high.  When I use my electric skillet, I set the thermostat to 350°.  My favorite way to fry potatoes is in a cast iron skillet, but the electric skillet is a close second.

While the oil heats, cut the potatoes in half length-wise.  Cut each half in half lengthwise again.




 Hold the two long quarters together and slice.  My slices are 1/4″ or so thick.  They are not all of equal thickness.  You want to have some thinner and some thicker, as it gives a wonderful textural variety to the finished dish.  Trust me.



 Carefully slide the sliced potatoes into the hot oil.  It will splatter, so be careful.  You are remembering to wear an apron when you cook, aren’t you?



 With a spatula, stir the potato slices around a bit until they are evenly distributed in the oil.  Let the potatoes cook over medium-high heat, stirring from time to time to keep them cooking evenly and to keep them from sticking to your pan.  As you stir the potatoes, be sure to turn them over once in awhile, too



.Once the potatoes begin to brown (about ten minutes or so), turn down the heat to medium, cover the pan and continue cooking.



You will want to be sure to stir and turn them once in a while.  Continue cooking until they are done (about another ten minutes).  The thin slices will be very soft, and the thicker slices tender.



Sprinkle the potatoes generously with garlic salt, onion salt and several turns from your black pepper mill.  Stir to distribute seasonings evenly, drain off grease and serve.



 My husband likes to eat them with ketchup, but I prefer them just as they are. These are a great side dish to all-American meals like meat loaf, hamburgers and, of course, steaks!


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31 comments to Fred’s Fried Puhtaytuz – My Dad’s Recipe for Fried Potatoes

  • Thank you so much for the great story of your parents and for the wonderful recipe.  I’m sure my husband and I will really enjoy these…they look deliciouse!

  • These look amazing! I live in Minnesota, so we say puhtaytuz too. Actually, I say potatoes, but that’s because I make myself say it correctly!

  • Heehee!  Whenever I think of puhtaytuz, I get a mental image of him salting those Taco Bell “puhtaytuz” 😆

  • Yum-yum!!!  Nothing like fried potatoes – now that is some comfort food.  I was giggling through your story because my husband makes the BEST fried potatoes and I cannot, for the life of me, make them even decent!  I don’t know why I can’t seem to do it.  It really doesn’t seem hard!  I am happy to have my husbands potatoes… er I mean puhtaytuz.  I don’t need to master this one…

    Thanks for sharing!

    Jennifer A.

  • It is a regional thing for sure. We all say pahtaytuz in IL, especially those who come from the southern part like your dad. What a wonderful glimpse into your childhood.

    Thanks, and the pahtaytuz look wonderful!!! I do mine the same way except I add cut up onion to the mix!

  • Funny, my dad says spuds!
    Fried potatoes are best with fresh fish, preferably trout or Kokanee salmon!

  • YUM! I love hearing about your family! Talk about a man’s dream~ steak and potatoes every night. My hubby would love that. Now you have to post an old picture of your family. I would love to see Fred and little Cheryl. Please!!! P.S. Missed you today. Thought you might be in our neck of the woods. Guess you had some puhtaytuz to make. : ) Love, RJ

  • Yup! I am from Central Illinois and it has always been PUHTAYTUZ! I don’t intend to change. I LOVE the regional pronunciations of different words. Doesn’t that just add to our memories? So endearing.
    It is so interesting to read your reader’s comments and see the ones who also pronounce it this way.
    Have a wonderful weekend,
    Diana in Illinois

  • I also grew up with fried “puhtatuh’s” too. I call it one of the basics, only we had potatoes boiled, baked, fried, creamed or mashed along with a meat and veggies every night of the week with spaghetti added in once every couple weeks. We didn’t go hungry and it’s all I really ever knew. My Mom never tried new recipe’s. Funny how times and people change, eh?

  • Well I’ve never heard it pronounced puhtaytuhs, here in Ontario, but I loved reading about your parents.  You really are a very good writer, Cheryl!:goodjob:

    A nice spice for fried potatoes is from Costco and is the Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic seasoning..  I toss my potatoes in canola oil and lots of that seasoning and fry or roast in the oven. YUM!

    Have a wonderful weekend.


  • Thanks to you Cheryl, I now have a compost bowl on my counter. It isn’t a pretty sight either. :giggle:

  • My compost is an old coffee can.  I like it because I can’t see through it.

    I make fried potatoes from leftover baked potatoes.  I think the texture of yours is much better and I am going to try them next week.  My dh loves fried potatoes with eggs for dinner. 

  • My grandmother made these for my grandfather.  Some of my best memories.  She sliced them all the way across…like thick potato chips.  And when they were pretty much cooked, she would crack a few eggs on top of the whole mess, put the lid on and when the eggs were cooked, scoop it onto the plate, letting the yolks get mixed all through.  It might sound gross, I don’t know, but it absolutely is one of the best dishes I have ever eaten!  Even my picky hubby likes this!  The best part was sitting on my grandpa’s lap and helping him eat his heaping plate full!  I always had to sit on his lap and help him when he ate this!



  • This brings back memories for me too.  When I was little, my dad’s supper was scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, and bacon.  Only our fried potatoes were made from leftover that had been cooked and refrigerated. We’d eat and then pile in the car to pick my mom up from work.  She never had her license until I was 16 years old.   My dads other specialty was that he would make a bundt cake on Sundays!

    When I got older, dad finally tried his hand at other foods.  Mom would have it all prepared and in the frig with a note that said something like:  “Put meatloaf in oven at 4:30 pm on 350 F.  Love Mom”  Of course with 3 girls dad was soon able to hand the job over! 😉

    Have a wonderful day!  Karen T.

  • YUMMY! I love fried potatoes in bacon grease! We say puhtaytuz here in South Dakota too! :coolman:

  • Thank you for sharing this lovely story of your parents and of your Father’s fried Puhtaytuz (Fried Potatoes) Recipe.
    I cannot wait to cook this meal for my Family.
    My Family and I are praying for you and for your family.
    God Bless,

  • I have been making your dad’s puhtaytuz for years.  Same ingredients and same way of cooking them.  I love them.  I just didn’t know the correct name for them until now.  🙂  And thanks for sharing memories of your parents.  I love hearing stories and memories of other people’s lives.

  • Oh, Cheryl, my Dad loved these too. He grew up eating them, must have been a popular item during the Depression. Although we usually cooked them in margarine, I make them the exact same way you do, right down to the rough chop (I call it rustic). Lots of folks say puhtaytuz in this part of New England, but we call this dish “home fries”, usually served with ketchup.


  • :wave: Love this – I too make fried potatoes (or puhtaytuz) basically the same way you do – mine are a little different – I don’t peel mine, I use margarine (but I think I’m going to try the Canola Oil) & I add onions.  My family absolutely LOVES them.  I just LOVE your site!! :sunny:

  • That is the way we say it too. I thought maybe it was me but I asked my husband last night and he said it the same way! I am going to have to try those now. They look so yummy!

  • Um… isn’t that the way everyone pronounces potatoes? :giggle:

  • I laughed so hard…I feel the exact same way, except I cannot make myself EAT tongue either! I look at one in the meat case, and all I can think of is a slobbery cow tongue licking me as I was feeding them or working them in a chute.

    Mama cubed her potatoes in about a 1/2″ cut. I still cook them in her cast iron skillet (the same one I use to fry my mahogany chicken that is so good it makes ya wanna slap somebody . I still use bacon drippings just like Mama. I’d rather have em once in a while like that then more often with canola. I do em the exact same way, but they never taste as good as the memories do. It’s probably the same way for you and Fred’s puhtaytuz. Such sweet sweet memories.


  • Oh my goodness!  Lot’s of puhtaytuz people here! 

    Ya’ll/You guys/You uns/You people/All ya’ll  aren’t/ain’t  from around/’round  here/these parts/this neck of the woods/this region!   It’s poe (like Edgar Allen)-TAY- toe (like the ones on your feet).

  • Corin – Hush child!  Your California is showing! 😆

  • I just bought a bag of potatoes….now I know one thing I’m gonna do with it!

    I’ve always wanted to do a compost pile but have never managed to get the hang of it. Do you have a post on how to do a compost pile???

  • Oh, Corin! You have me rollin over here! :laugh:

    So if it’s Puhtaytuz…then is it Tuhmaytuz? :fun:

  • Yum! I love fried potatoes!

  • I do believe they were tuhmaytuz Lanette!

  • Corin, Corin, Corin……sigh…………everyone, simply everyone KNOWS that it is puhtaytuz and Toe-may-toes.:nono:  Oh, Lanette, PULEEZE don’t encourage her. 

  • I’m originally from Northern Illinois and yes, it’s pronounced as you’ve shared. :o) I make them similar to you but add onions and a touch of sugar…and use butter. Ketchup? Of course!

    Beef tongue. And gizzards and hearts and livers in noodles. sigh. gag. wretch.

    I have my great grandmother’s cookbook (she was 91 when she went home in 1963…so you know the cookbook’s old) and man alive they used *everything*! 😮

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