Even for those of us in the food sphere, now is a great time to discover new recipes, especially those that conveniently use pantry ingredients, are easy to bring together, and most importantly are delicious and comforting.
I recently discovered an old-school technique for cooking potatoes that is deeply magical. First off, it uses cooked potatoes, so you can either make extras the next time you are boiling or baking spuds, or you can cook new ones. Second, it uses onion, not just as a hint of flavor, but as a co-star of the dish. Third, and maybe most importantly, it hits that sweet spot of fried enough to have some crispy bits, but still tender and forkable. You could eat it as an elevated sort of hashed browns with an egg or two on top for a hearty breakfast or brunch, with a salad at lunch, or as a great side dish with your dinner.
And seeing as we’re all still quarantining, you can also eat a giant bowl of it at 3pm in your pajamas while watching reruns of The Great British Baking Show. Just tell anyone in your house I said it was okay.
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The delicious but impossible to pronounce potato dish of our dreams
The potatoes are a German technique for a dish called bratkartoffeln, also known as German fried potatoes. If you live in the American South in areas where German immigrants settled, you may have heard of it already—and if you’re lucky, reveled in its comforting, crispy delights.
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How to make bratkartoffeln
Start with a few simple ratios: For every person you want to feed, you are going to want about a cup of cooked, sliced potatoes. And for every cup of potatoes, you’ll want about a quarter cup of large-diced onion. This means that for a family of four, 4 cups of sliced potatoes (about 4 large-ish Russets) and one medium to large onion. Here’s how to bring it all together:
1. Pre-cook your potatoes. Many recipes call for boiling, but I prefer to either steam or bake mine to intensify the flavor and prevent the potatoes from being wet, which will inhibit crisping.
2. Leave time for the cooked potatoes to chill in the fridge 3-4 hours before slicing into ¼-inch thick rounds (similar to cottage fries).
3. Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. For every serving you will want to add a half tablespoon of butter and a half tablespoon of neutral oil. Again, for a family of four that means 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons of oil.
4. When the butter stops foaming, add the onions and cook to a good caramelization. They should be browned and crispy on the edges, but still maintain some structure: about 5 minutes.
5. Remove the onions and reserve in a bowl. Lay the potato slices in one even layer in the fat—you may have to do this in batches depending on how much you are making and how big your pan is. You want each potato slice to fry to golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.
6. As they get done, you can add them to the bowl with the onions. When all of the potatoes are cooked, return the whole mess, with the onion, to the pan and toss to ensure that the onions are well-distributed through the potatoes. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Variations that are even more delicious
- Add Bacon: If you want to make your bratkartoffeln super traditional with bacon, add one slice of chopped bacon per cup of potatoes to the pan after you fry the onion. Cook the bacon to crisp, then remove to the bowl with the onions, and cook the potatoes in the combined fats.
- Get Fresh with Herbs: If you want to go a little next level, garnish with chopped fresh herbs: Parsley, chives, dill, sage, thyme leaves, rosemary, or tarragon are all delicious options. Once the dish is cooked, you can hold it in a 200-degree oven uncovered in an oven safe dish until it’s time to eat!
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