Puppyface and I have something in common. She’s a mutt, and so am I.
Even though my family’s ethnicity is a big ole melting pot, one part we’ve always identified with strongly is our German heritage. Maybe it’s because my Dad grew up in a very German part of Indiana (yes, those exist). Maybe it’s because those German genes are dominant. Maybe it’s because bratwurst and beer are so damn good. Whatever it is, German traditions—and specifically foods—are a pretty strong part of my family’s story.
Even though I had them pretty frequently as a kid, I’d completely forgotten about these potatoes until we ate at a Southern Indiana staple—the Log Inn—this summer. The Log Inn is known for a lot of things. It’s the oldest restaurant in Indiana. Abraham Lincoln ate there. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad. But what it’s most known for nowadays? The ridiculously delicious food. Including their off-the-menu, special order German fries. You’d hope a restaurant located in a town called “Haubstadt” would be able to make some good German fries, and man, do they ever.
My version has a whole lot less butter and bacon grease, but tastes almost as good. In the motherland, these potatoes are served as a side dish to almost anything, but here in the Johnston household, we like to serve them in place of hashbrowns for Sunday breakfast. A few eggs, a pile of German fries and CBS Sunday Morning? That’s pretty much the happiest Sunday I can think of.
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Bratkartoffeln (German Fried Potatoes and Onions)
Makes 4 servings
If you are in a rush, you can pierce the potatoes with a fork and then zap them in the microwave for a few minutes before slicing and frying. This helps the potatoes soften a lot more quickly than they would naturally in the frying pan.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 russet potatoes, sliced into 1/8″ slices
- 2 medium onions, sliced into 1/4″ slices
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large skillet over medium-low heat, heat butter and olive oil until butter is melted. Add potatoes.
- Cook potatoes, stirring every few minutes, for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are soft and sides are brown and crispy. Unless you have the world’s largest frying pan, the potatoes won’t be able to be in just one layer so they won’t brown evenly. Part of the deliciousness of German fries is that some are crunchy and some are fluffy soft. Go with it.
- Once potatoes are done, remove from pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
- In hot skillet, add onions and cook until just softened and beginning to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
- Add back in the potatoes, mix well and heat until potatoes are re-warmed. Remove from heat and season liberally with salt and pepper.
Do you eat any foods often from your cultural background?