September 29th, 2004


(no subject)

I have posted the recipe for Zorba's Relatively Uninteresting Potato Dish.

Link provided, since it's in a community and not, you know, here.

Because if it was, you'd be reading it now.

Edit: Now it is here, as well.


Man cannot live on demon alfredo alone. Some days, as your arteries ping and creak, slowly expanding thanks to the last time you used a significant fraction of a stick of butter in a single recipe (and melting it in heavy cream, no less! Is there no shame?) you may find yourself thinking, Hmm. Perhaps I am in the mood for something a little less greasy, heavy, and possibly, fattening. Perhaps today I am in the mood for something plain. Conventional.

Even, dare I say, stodgy.

And it doesn't get stodgier than potatoes! Oh yes, of course, you could build fantastic dishes out of potatoes, with seventeen different herbs and spices that must be gathered under the full moon by a 29-year-old Latvian virgin and then bathed in the fresh-fallen snow of the Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort, now offering season passes for the low low price of $129. You could construct such beautiful creations as would be displayed on the prow of a cruise ship, such meals as would be right at home in the fanciest of royal balls, but in the end, when someone asks you "What, pray tell, is contained in such an extravagent concoction?" you will be forced to reply, with a sheepish grin,

"Well . . . mostly potatoes."

And that, as they say, is that.

But let that not stop us in the privacy of our own kitchen! The potato, while perhaps not the most exciting of foods, is surely one of the most dependable. It can be fluffy, it can be firm, it can be anywhere in between! One can serve potato hot or cold as one wishes. One can even, given enough time, ferment it into a variety of intoxicating drinks that will be consumed in a night-time orgy of drunkeness and debauchery, leading inevitably to the bleary awakening and stark confusion when you discover that there appears to be a cage of hamsters in your bed.

Even this is not our goal though, and while I could wax poetic on the Irish Potato Famine and the World Potato Congress and perhaps even the little-known offspring of the Boston Tea Party known in some circles as the South Manhattan Potato Gathering, the fact is that I'm getting rather tired of writing in this fashion and am ready to skip to the recipe.

So here's the recipe.


More potatoes than you think is appropriate (they will lose an amazing amount of volume. (Generally this ends up being 6 medium-sized potatoes or so. (Also, make sure they're salad potatoes, not baking potatoes. (We're not baking them, so baking potatoes aren't appropriate.))))
One half of an onion (this is the right amount for one person who likes onions.)
A small amount of salt
A similar amount of pepper
Olive oil
A surprisingly large frying pan or other frying device

Cut the potatoes into cubes about 3/4" on all sides.

Cut the onions into significantly smaller pieces. I suggest approximately 1/4" square, and about as thick as a layer of onion. (It hardly seems worth trying to override the onion on this point.)

Throw it all into the frying pan. Splash with olive oil. Mix around until evenly coated. If you don't think it's coated enough, add more olive oil. As long as there isn't actually olive oil pooling on the bottom of your frying pan, you're good.

Add the salt and pepper. Mix around again until evenly coated. It is important to note that I never use salt and pepper in anything, and yet, in this dish, I do. Neglecting the salt and pepper would be like leaving the toilet seat up when your girlfriend is visiting, or going on a safari without one of those straw hats, or summoning an elder god without reciting the true names of the seven demons of lesser Narthathel. It might work, but it's just plain not a good idea.

Cover your frying pan, and turn the heat up. It should be making fascinating sizzling noises. It should not be burning. It should, in my opinion, be browning a bit, but if it seems to be creating too much brown and not enough cooked, you may want to turn the heat down a little. This will take a VERY LONG TIME. Half an hour or more. (The cooking. Not turning the heat down.) I suggest finding something to do, like reading a book, chatting with friends, or, as a purely hypothetical example, posting recipes on the Livejournal cooking community.

Poke one of the potato pieces with a fork. If the fork makes crunching noises as it goes in, it's not done. If the fork goes in smoothly, it's getting close. If the fork goes in smoothly and then the potato piece falls neatly in half along the axis you poked the fork in, it's done.

Sprinkle it with basil, then stir it around a little. Let it sit another 30 seconds or so (I don't know if this is important, but if we don't have dogmatic reliance on arbitary guidelines, then really, what do we have?) Move onto plates, then sprinkle with a little more basil. If you wish you may sprinkle other things with basil too. Basil is tasty.



There is one bonus suggestion I can give that I have had some success with. Keep some good animal fat around - my mom's house tends to have goose grease in large quantities, but if I don't have that, I will occasionally make bacon and siphon off the fat into a (covered, metal, refrigerated) container. Add a little at the very end and turn the heat up. If you've done it right, you'll get nice crunchy outer coverings on the potatoes. I find this extremely tasty, but it may not be to everyone's liking, and obviously completely eliminates the whole vegetarian dealie if that's your thing. (I don't believe vegetable fats will work as well - lower smoke point.)

It's also worth pointing out that few things scream "Have beer with me!" more loudly than potatoes. In fact, I think the only thing that does is German cuisine (yes, all of German cuisine), so get some good beer to go with this.


As usual, remarks or suggestions are appreciated.