little house cookbook, vegetables

Fried Potatoes

I’m starting to notice something about this project. Are you?

There’s not a lot of color in prairie food. It’s mostly shades of brown. Which could go to a gross place, but I’d rather think of it as a commentary on the limited availability of food and storage out on the prairie. It seems that once fall rolled around, people had to hunker down for the winter with a tasty selection of root vegetables and salt pork that would keep in the cellar.

And hey, I’m not against salt pork! Or root vegetables. I had some last night.

But if I’d been eating variations on potatoes, carrots, and salt pork all winter long, I might not have been so enthusiastic about that meal.

Potatoes are a kind of comfort food for me. Maybe it’s my Irish background,* but potatoes taste darn good any way you cook them. Baked, boiled, mashed (my sister’s favorite), fried, deep-fried….yum.

These are pretty straightforward. Boil whole, unpeeled potatoes until just tender, then peel with a knife while still hot. (The skin comes right off.) Slice into 1/4 – 1/8 inch rounds, and fry until brown in leftover drippings. Eaten with carrots and grilled pork chops, they taste of crisp fall days spent crunching through leaves.

*Nerd note: Did you know that if Columbus had never arrived at the New World and initiated the Columbian Exchange, the Irish potato famine might never have occurred? The potato was introduced to the Old World following Columbus’ exploration, and it quickly became so central to the Irish diet that it was only a matter of a few centuries before a potato blight devastated the population in the 19th century. I just (re)learned that for the course I’m teaching this year.


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