Summer Plate: Fried Potatoes
This past weekend I took the autumnal blue skies in stride and made a trip to the Headhouse Farmers Market to pick up some long-anticipated Asian pears and other specialty bits that I’m not growing myself. I love farmers markets any time of the year, but strolling the stalls in fall is an extra special experience. When September rolls around, fields are in their peak of production as they hold on to the last of the summer crops and start to churn out harvests from the fall crops too. Peppers mingle with pears, butternut squash cohabitates with tomatillos, apples stand shoulder-to-shoulder with white peaches, and heirloom tomatoes keep stride with freshly dug potatoes.
After loading up on the coveted Asian pears from North Star Orchard, gala and honey crisp apples from Ben at Three Springs Fruit Farm, new fingerling potatoes from Yoder Heirlooms, and some plums from Beechwood Orchards, I decided it was time to truck it all back to the kitchen and make a delicious all-local meal for D and I to eat out on the deck in the cool autumn-kissed twilight. There’s something about seeing one plate piled with nothing but locally-sourced ingredients, be it from an atmospheric farmers market, the vegetable garden, or just containers on the deck, that seems utterly poetic to me. Am I alone in this sentiment?
I decided to make a mini-series out of the three recipes I used to create this end-of-summer-beginning-of-autumn dinner, though the plate full of food reminded me more of summer still. I think it was the grilled corn coins that kept the flavors of warm days at the forefront of my mind, despite the chill in the air.
I’m starting off with the potatoes because they have so many memories associated with them from my childhood days. We grew potatoes on the farm and planting and digging them were big family affairs – my grandparents would come down from their house on the hill above ours, my brothers would all be there, my parents of course, and occasionally even some cousins and aunts. Sometime I’ll spin the tale of all that went into growing those potatoes – suffice to say that as a very Irish family, we planted plenty and celebrated their harvest with heaps of young tender baby potatoes fried up just as I have here in today’s post. I always loved getting the extra crispy little bits hot out of the oil. Originally my mom would fry these in lard – hello Pennsylvania Dutch heritage – but I can’t bring myself to do that so vegetable or canola oil are good choices instead, though the flavor just isn’t quite the same.
While we only grew your basic white potatoes when I was a kid, the adult me now enjoys having a mix of potatoes in this fry. The sweet potatoes are almost a must as they make the platter memorable. They do fry faster than the other potatoes though so watch them closely or put them in separately.
Come back soon to load up your plate with the recipes for Warm Beet Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing and Grill Basil Garlic Corn Coins!
Mixed Fried Potatoes
A Straight from the Farm Original
2 large sweet potatoes
1 lb. fingerling potatoes
1 lb. small purple potatoes
1 C. vegetable oil
1 T. coarse sea salt
1/2 C. fresh chopped parsley
Scrub the potatoes well. Do not peel. Halve the small potatoes lengthwise. For the larger potatoes, cut as needed to get them into pieces about the same size as the halves of the smaller potatoes. Make sure every piece of potato has some skin on it. As you cut them, place them in a large bowl of cold water. When all the potatoes are cut, drain the water out of the bowl and replenish with clean water. Allow to sit for a minute or two.
Heat the oil in the largest skillet you have over high heat. When it begins to shimmer, you’re ready to fry. Remove potato pieces from water and pat dry on a kitchen towel. You may need to fry in batches so leave potatoes in the water just until you’re ready to put them in the skillet. Carefully place in a single layer in the hot oil and allow to fry undisturbed for 5-10 minutes until golden and relatively soft when pressed with the spatula.
Use the spatula to roughly break apart the potatoes in the skillet to create a few smaller bits that will fry up extra crispy. Use the spatula to turn over the potatoes a time or two and fry for another 2-3 minutes until potatoes are golden all over. Remove from oil and place on a serving plate lined with paper towel. Sprinkle generously with sea salt while still hot.
Repeat with remaining potatoes until all are fried to a golden crisp. Sprinkle each new batch with sea salt. When all are done, garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately while still hot.
The leftovers make a great addition to scrambled eggs or an omelet the next day.