Choosing your favorite crispy potato is like, well, choosing your favorite crispy potato. It's impossible! There's so much possibility for crunch, so much adaptability, so much willingness to be dunked and dipped and topped with whatever sauces and spreads you desire.
But, there are also times when one kind of crispy potato is probably more suitable than another. Take, for example, you need to serve a ton of people and want something you can slice into wedges (hi, rösti) or maybe individual potato pancakes are more what you're searching for (we see you, latkes).
Here are a bunch of crispy potato options. We think you'll find exactly what you're looking for:
If you want something that can be crispy or creamy (which depends on a lot of factors, like how thick the latkes are, how much matzo meal or flour is added, and what sorts of binders are used) and something you can eat several of, latkes are for you. Also, if you’re cool with shallow frying. (If you haven't made latkes before or just want to watch something cool, check out this video.)
If you want to shred some potatoes, throw them into a pan, and get them all crazy crispy, consider hash browns. (Also, if you're a fan of ketchup, which hash browns demand to be served.) It’s worth noting that, being pan-shaped, hash browns are somewhat in the style of a Swiss rösti—but generally hash browns are thinner and therefore more crispy all-around. (Whereas latkes are personal portion-sized and need to be cooked in more oil.)
If you want deep-fried (!) hunks of potatoes, make patatas bravas. This Spanish tapas dish is made by first boiling potatoes in salted water until tender, rubbing them dry, then deep-frying. As for the toppings, this varies by city: In Burgos, patatas bravas are covered with a tomato-based sauce. In Valencia and Catalonia, the potatoes are coated in a sauce made from olive oil, vinegar, and spices and served with aioli.
If you want a bunch of bits (or cubes or wedges or slices) of crispy potatoes (either unpeeled or peeled) that get thrown into hot skillet, you need home fries. Serve alongside an omelet, as they're intended to be.
If you want a fancy-looking dish of thinly sliced, layered potatoes that calls for a very, very large amount of melted butter, Pommes Anna is the answer. It may crisp up a lot or a little on the bottom, depending on your pan and oven and how thin you can get potatoes.
If you want something you actually can’t stop eating, get yourself (or make!) some potato chips.
If you want little cylinders of deep-fried, grated potatoes that, again, fall into the category of things you won't be able to stop eating, you need tater tots. If you want to buck tradition and excess oil, you could opt to bake your tots. The ketchup on the side is, however, not optional.
If you want something… uh, do you really need an explanation of when to make French fries?
Tell us: Do you have a favorite crispy potato?