Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fried Potatoes with Peppers & Onions Calabese style

Anyone who knows me knows how much I like potatoes. Baked, boiled, fried, sweet, red, yellow, you name it, I love them. Leftover potatoes rarely go bad in my refrigerator. One of my favorite ways of preparing them is to simply fry them up with peppers and onions – yum! Yes, I know this dish falls into the unhealthy category, but whenever I need to enhance an otherwise bland meat entrĂ©e, these seem to do the trick. They are fast and easy to prepare and can be embellished with other vegetables such as zucchini or mushrooms, and/or any combination of herbs. 

It's not necessary to pre-boil the potatoes whole ahead of time, which for me takes too long. True Italians will slice the potatoes and fry them raw to achieve a good crisp. I prefer to 'quick-boil' my sliced potatoes to give them a head start. Of course, if you have leftover potatoes on hand, all the better. Any variety of potato can be used (red, white, russet, yellow), cut anyway you prefer (cubed, spears, rounds), peeled or unpeeled.  

The same holds true for the peppers. Banana peppers are traditional, but any sweet or hot, or combination of peppers can be used. Add a colored pepper -red, yellow,orange-for a spark of color. 

This dish is a typical Calabrese favorite. Sweet and sometimes hot peppers paired with potatoes in this way is a common side or main dish in that part of Italy. With parents from that region, my mother often prepared her potatoes in this way. The aroma of the peppers frying recalls very fond memories of growing up in an Italian American household with my four sisters.

Fried Potatoes with Peppers & Onions

3 medium to large yellow potatoes, unpeeled, cut into ¼ inch spears
1 medium green pepper, cut into strips
1 hot pepper, sliced (optional) 
(When sliced you should have about equal amounts of potatoes to peppers)
1 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 T. each chopped parsley and fresh sweet basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Good olive oil for frying

Place the sliced potatoes in a large skillet. Add just enough water to coat the bottom of the pan and barely cover the potatoes. Season with some salt, and cover the pan. Bring to a boil and cook till just slightly soft, about 5 minutes or less. Don’t let them get fully cooked. They will finish cooking when fried. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain and air dry.

Clean the skillet and dry well. Heat the skillet on high and when hot add a good amount of olive oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium high and add the sliced peppers and onions and fry a few minutes till they begin to soften. Add the garlic and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir mixture frequently to keep garlic from burning and potatoes from sticking, but allowing potatoes to brown and crisp a bit.

When all vegetables reach desired doneness, add the chopped basil and parsley.  Stir to combine and serve.  

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