Our memories from childhood stick with us throughout our lives and dinner with my grandparents (who lived right next door) make up so many of my good memories about food and this particular recipe: patate fritte (fried potatoes).
I’m a meat-and-potatoes-girl while my sister was all about pasta. So when my grandparents called to invite us over for pasta dinner, I dragged my feet. But when it was slow roasted chicken legs with roasted potatoes, I was out the door before my mother even finished hanging up the phone. The only thing that could move me even faster was patate fritte.
This is a mess of a dish that may not look gourmet but tastes heavenly. It’s a prime example of typical Calabrese home cooking that uses what you have around the house. It’s particularly best at this time of year when gardens are winding down – maybe you have one lonely eggplant left or need to get rid of some beans or onions. Slowly pan-fried, this meal results in crispy potatoes and a mix of vegetables that are irresistible. Of course, you can omit the vegetables all together and just come up with a great potato side dish, or you can add small pork tenderloin pieces to the frying pan to round out the meal.
I’ve grown to love pasta a bit more now, but in still – patate fritte is my ultimate Italian comfort food and my best memories in one dish.
[By the way if you like this recipe, and love this blog, vote for An Italian-Canadian Life for Best Canadian foodie Blog in the MiB Awards today!]
Yellow or Yukon Gold Potatoes
Fresh romano beans
Dried hot pepper flakes or one fresh hot pepper (as desired)
For this recipe, I used what I had around the house: an eggplant, some onions and fresh romano beans. Clean your vegetables including your onions, removing the tips from the beans and the peel from the eggplant. Slice them into relatively uniform pieces.
Wash your potatoes and cut them into thin slices, about 1/4 inch thick or thinner. If you have a mandolin to cut with, use it. The thinner the potatoes, the crisper they will get. If you have new potatoes, or very clean potatoes, you can choose to leave the peels on if you wish (though my grandfather would never do this, but I like the peels!).
Using a large frying pan, coat the bottom with olive oil and heat at medium or medium-hot. When the oil is heated through, create a layer of potatoes and sprinkle liberally with salt. Add a layer of your vegetables, then another layer of potatoes, then vegetables again, sprinkling with salt until you have put everything into the pan. Sprinkle dried hot peppers onto the dish or add one fresh whole hot pepper, if desired. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of your vegetables.
Cover the pan with a lid or large piece of tinfoil and allow to cook for 8-10 minutes. After this time has passed, turn the potatoes and vegetables carefully, trying not to break the potato slices and cover again to continue cooking. Once the potatoes are cooked through (they break easily with a fork), continue cooking without the lid to get them to crisp up.
The dish is done when everything is crispy and golden. Serve piping hot, but be careful not to burn yourself (I did that so many times in my rush to dig in!). Go ahead and eat them all in one go, they aren’t the best the next day – or at least that’s what I tell myself.