Russian Style Home Fries

12/14/2014
Written by Mila Furman, the Girl and the Kitchen

Girl and the Kitchen

 

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This is the Russian Holy Grail of comfort food.  And with 5 ingredients it really does not get much simpler. 

What I am introducing to you today ladies and gentlemen is zharenya kartoshka, literal translation, fried potatoes, or home fries.  Ask any Russian, Ukranian, Belarussian, Moldovian (me) or most other Slavic countryman what their ultimate comfort food is and chances are this will be the answer.

Why?  Because most of our childhoods were full of dinners, breakfasts and lunches that featured this very magical dish.   It is a humble dish that acted as a rustic side dish to many Russian favorites and sometimes in the hardest of economic times it was the main dish, side dish and appetizer…all in one.

Potatoes were typically easy to come by, or at least easier than meat or poultry, and they were relatively inexpensive.  Hence why most of the Slavic foods feature potatoes in so many of their recipes.  It is a great filler for growling tummies in the coldest of Russian winters.

 

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It’s also a great side dish to go along with cold vodka shots, chunks of grilled meat on an open fire and along side a Russian style sasiska aka hot dogs.  In fact, the classic zharenaya kartoshka and sasiska breakfast has helped my husband and I get over many hangovers and fulfill our nostalgic thoughts at dinner times.

Munchkin is quite the fan as well…and her breakfast of zharenaya kartoshka, sasiska and small pieces of tomato have served as her breakfast many a times…and she gobbles it up just as we do.

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I remember many a cold evenings when my mom or babushka would fry up these glorious spuds.  Babushka would typically make the potatoes and mama would make the kotletki (little ground fried meat  patties) along with her signature salad of aromatic tomatoes, crisp cucumbers and bright green scallions and simply dressed in sunflower oil and salt and pepper.  The best part was the juice that remained once the salad was gone.  We would all use chunks of bread or our potato pieces to dip into the simple tomato juices left behind.

This was dad’s favorite part.  To mop up all the juices with a huge chunk of  grey rye bread.

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And everyone was happy.

It was simple dinners like this that have left a footprint on my culinary mind…and my heart.  Those warm evenings of family and so much love were only complimented by the simple flavors on the table.  My mom was a magician of simple flavors and we all felt the love that she put into her food.   And we all miss that to this day.

Today, whenever I make this dish for my family or friends, we all chow down on it whole heartedly, and we all bond over our own individual tales of nostalgia that this dish held for us.  It’s a dish we all bond over and we all share love for.  It’s a dish that bonds us together as people who love family, friends, loud social gatherings, comfort food and most importantly our memories from our own childhoods.  It’s our tales of our lives in the old country before they became over complicated.

Nostalgia.  It’s a beautiful thing.

What else is a beautiful thing?  This glorious sauce I serve with my potatoes.  A simple combination of sour cream, a touch of mayo, chopped dill and fresh garlic.  And it is almost always served along side my potatoes.

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We start this dish by peeling our potatoes.  For this dish I prefer to use Yukon golds.  They remind me of the potatoes we had in Russian and makes me feel authentic.

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Next we slice them up into fry like shapes.  First by cutting it into thirds lengthwise.

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Then we pour some oil into a large NON STICK pan.  Any oil will do.  We used to use a combination of butter and vegetable oil.  But honestly any oil will do.

 

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Add in all your potatoes, carefully.  Some of the moisture on the potatoes may cause the oil to splatter on you.

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Leave it alone for 5 minutes cooking over medium high heat UNCOVERED.  And you will get these beautiful colors.

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Flip them over to the other side and let them go for another 5 minutes.  In the meantime grab a whole onion, peel it and slice it into slices…in fact here’s a tutorial for ya’!

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And look at these beauties.

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Now add in your onions and if necessary a bit more oil.  You see those potatoes suck up the oil, so you need to add just a tad more to keep them cooking rather than burning.

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Now place the lid on top.  For me this is crucial.  WHY?  Because I like my taters nicely browned on the outside and buttery soft and sweet on the inside.  And since we have already fried them up nicely, the insides will now get the opportunity to get soft. HOWEVER if you like them nice and crispy…right now is a great time to stick them in a 450-degree oven until they are done. Just remember to flip them now and then.

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Grab your handy dandy microplaner or micro grater and grate up 3 cloves of garlic.  Set aside 2 of them to be used in the sauce later on.  For now, we need just one for the potatoes…remember the potatoes are the star here not the garlic.

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Once your taters are soft, taste for seasoning, turn of the heat and add the garlic.  Toss everything together and close the lid for another 2-5 minutes so the garlic flavor seeps in everywhere.

Oh yes…yes this is the best stuff…ever!

Now lets whip up the sauce…take some mayo, some sour cream, salt, pepper and that grated garlic… oh and a few sprigs of chopped dill.  Mix it all up and that’s the magical sauce.  It’s a Russian aioli if you will.

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Serve it alongside your potatoes…dip..enjoy…and share in our nostalgia.

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Ingredients

For the potatoes:
  • 2.5 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • salt and pepper to season
  • desired oil
  • chopped dill for garnish or if desired to add to the potatoes at the very end
For the sauce:
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • finely chopped dill
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Instructions

  1. We start this dish by peeling our potatoes. For this dish I prefer to use Yukon golds. They remind me of the potatoes we had in Russian and makes me feel authentic.
  2. Next we slice them up into fry like shapes.
  3. Then we pour some oil into a large NON STICK pan. Any oil will do. We used to use a combination of butter and vegetable oil. But honestly any oil will do.
  4. Add in all your potatoes, carefully. Some of the moisture on the potatoes may cause the oil to splatter on you.
  5. Leave it alone for 5 minutes cooking over medium high heat UNCOVERED.
  6. Flip them over to the other side and let them go for another 5 minutes. In the meantime grab a whole onion, peel it and slice it into slices…in fact here’s a tutorial for ya’!
  7. Now add in your onions and if necessary a bit more oil. You see those potatoes suck up the oil, so you need to add just a tad more to keep them cooking rather than burning.
  8. Now place the lid on top. For me this is crucial. WHY? Because I like my taters nicely browned on the outside and buttery soft and sweet on the inside. And since we have already fried them up nicely, the insides will now get the opportunity to get soft. HOWEVER if you like them nice and crispy…right now is a great time to stick them in a 450-degree oven until they are done. Just remember to flip them now and then.
  9. Grab your handy dandy microplaner or micro grater and grate up 3 cloves of garlic. Set aside 2 of them to be used in the sauce later on. For now, we need just one for the potatoes…remember the potatoes are the star here not the garlic.
  10. Once your taters are soft, taste for seasoning, turn of the heat and add the garlic. Toss everything together and close the lid for another 2-5 minutes so the garlic flavor seeps in everywhere.
  11. Now lets whip up the sauce…take some mayo, some sour cream, salt, pepper and that grated garlic… oh and a few sprigs of chopped dill. Mix it all up and that’s the magical sauce. It’s a Russian aioli if you will.
  12. Serve it alongside your potatoes…dip..enjoy…and share in our nostalgia.

By: Mila Furman

Categories: Mila Furman, Blog