Sunday, December 13, 2009

Home Fries

The "silly season" seems to have materialized this year suddenly and with a vengeance. I had nary a moment at home last week which, for one who appreciates the draw of the hearth as much as I do, was a bit discombobulating. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good party just as much as the next girl, but to go an entire week without eating at home is rare for me indeed.

Last Monday Paul and I attended, along with a couple of friends, a dress rehearsal of Sting's concert at St. John the Divine (the cathedral, which embarrassingly I had never set foot in before, was indeed divine). Our host had warned us ahead of time that there would be no hits played, and a sneak peek at the set list revealed that not only would there be no hits, but there would not be one song any of us recognized played that evening. I won't lie, I was nervous.

It turned out to be a delightful evening of wintry folkish songs in the end. Some sort of baby bagpipes were played by a fetching young woman who doubled as a extremely able fiddler, a lute made more than one appearance, and we were even serenaded by an adorable boy's choir from Newark. And Sting, decked out in a sexy version of Victorian men's garb, conversed with the audience. A very different vibe than I recalled from the Police tour a year or two ago.

Anyway, in his introduction, which the New York Times appropriately dubbed PBS-like, he described the draw of winter as being the idea of a cozy home serving as a oasis amidst the inclimate winter weather. Now when I think of cozy I think of fires in fireplaces. Tragically I do not have a fireplace. So my thoughts meandered to the warm spot in my apartment...the oven, which is quite heavily used in the winter months, and by extension the kitchen. And then obviously, my train of thought, as it so often does, settled on food as an endpoint.

As were were uptown, quite far from home, our need for food ended up being satisfied with some of Charles Gabriel's fabulous fried chicken even farther uptown. Mr. Gabriel's talent with a fry pan and extraordinary hospitality went quite a long way towards replicating the pleasures of home, but I was still craving something from my own stove.

So in a brief stolen moment at home I, thinking back to Sting's wise words, opted for something warm, unchallenging and fortifying. Potatoes are by far the most inspiring item at the farmer's market at the moment (I am not being sarcastic here, the varieties that Paffenroth brings week after week boggle the mind) so I had (and actually, still have) massive quantities of them on the kitchen counter. Home fries seemed the obvious choice. With such fabulous potato specimens why not let them shine, relatively unobscured?

I started with an onion sliced in half moons, and fried it slowly in olive oil until the pieces were meltingly tender. Next, after a bit more olive oil, I threw in some boiled potatoes, cut into healthy sized pieces, to fry away. After a few crusts began to form, I sprinkled over half teaspoon or so of smoked paprika...a spice I have to admit I still haven't gotten all that into but which I love with potatoes...and tossed in some chopped parsley for freshness.

And then I defiled the whole carefully calibrated endeavor with ketchup. It was perfection.

10 comments:

Jane said...

What a great idea I am not a fan of smoked paprika but I can see how it would work well with potato. And you pre boil your fries? I usually double fry them (ie fry until cooked but not coloured then whack back in to crisp up just before serving). You are lucky seeing Sting did he have his weird beardy thing?

Angie Muresan said...

That sounds so simple to make and so divine in taste that I must make it! What meat and how best prepared would go with it?

Laura [What I Like] said...

Jane - I do pre-boil...it's just easier for me somehow to leave them in water for fifteen minutes than watch a fry pan. Sting did have the beard which normally I'm not a fan of but it worked with the theme of the evening!

Angie Muresan - Hmmm...seems like a plain old steak would be delicious, and actually I imagine some sausage thrown in with the potatoes would be divine as well...perhaps even chorizo?

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

Laura...they way you wrote this post captured my attention all the way through..What a treat to hear that beautiful music in that catherdral....I LOVE that!

The potatoes look so good...I could go for a plate of them right now....

Sometimes I boil more potatoes just so we can have them fried up for breakfast...but with a steak for dinner sounds good too....

I'll be back to visit again soon..

Kary
xxx

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

Yes..Sting is always surprising. He loves to experiment. Sounds like a concert I would enjoy..and lucky you!

Okay...I am planning a trip to New York and the fried chicken place was not on my list..but it is now. BTW..have you eaten at Felidia?

I am a total carb freak so I appreciate your simple yet wonderful bowl of home fries.

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

A lovely, evocative post, Laura. And what an interesting musical life you lead! I know what you mean about hanging near the oven as winter settles in. I've been rediscovering the pleasures of braising lately.

Esther said...

I love those days when we can be comfy at home and experiment with dishes! Your potatoes sound great!

Laura [What I Like] said...

My Farmhouse Kitchen - What a lovely compliment, thank you! The cathedral was indeed a fantastic setting.

Mel - I haven't eaten there yet, although I've heard wonderful things. I know this is sort of an obvious suggestion but I would definitely give Lupa a try when you're in town. Excellent and really nice, relaxed vibe. Share all dishes with your dinner companion, have the waiters pick out quartinos of wine to match each course (gives you two glasses) and I swear it will feel like a much more expensive meal than it is. If you're uptown Mia Dona is great as well. Also I would recommend going to lunch at the super expensive places (Le Bernadin, Jean Georges, etc.). Food is still great but it's actually affordable at that time of day.

Terry B - I cannot take credit for the music I end up seeing...I always just tag along! I have been braising like a madwoman of late...

Esther - Yes, I look forward to those days like no other.

Angie Muresan said...

Made your potatoes for dinner with some venison sausage. Everyone, including my picky three year-old loved them. Thanks!

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