There are many times when I make dinner for one (me) and I always look forward to them. Because I try never to throw food away, I usually have several little baggies of this or that in my freezer which can be combined and augmented to make a nice dinner that might not be enough for two, but is perfect for one.
One thing that I seem to make more readily for myself than for company is fried potatoes. I’m not quite sure of the reason for this, except that these potatoes really take a bit of tending to, and to be enjoyed at their peak of flavor, they must be eaten as soon as they are ready. Unlike the myriad of things which I can start, hold, then finish for company, fried potatoes must be cooked and eaten as soon as they are ready. Therefore, when I’m cooking for guests and juggling a main course and several other things to serve, I don’t want a side dish that needs a lot of last-minute attention.
Although I consider the potatoes the centerpiece of this meal, the main course is a simply piece of pan-roasted sausage that I had in the freezer and threw in with the potatoes to brown. Because I like to boil Italian sausage before using it as a component in other dishes, I can always boil more than I need at one time, then throw a couple of extra links into a ziploc bag and use them straight from the freezer whenever I want. I can pull one out, slice and throw into a dish of pasta with sausage and broccoli di rapa, or one can be thrown into a white bean soup or stew. Tonight, I’m simply going to toss the whole thawed link of pork sausage into the skillet with my potatoes as they fry and the sausage will reheat and become golden along with the potatoes.
The broccoli di rapa have been washed, chopped and sauteed with garlic and olive oil, and they can be made first (even an hour ahead) and left to be eaten room temperature. They taste as good (if not better) lukewarm than piping hot. For the recipe for broccoli di rapa, refer to my prior post (“Fritto di Mare”).
This leaves all of my attention for the potatoes (and sausage). Not that they need that much attention, but they do need to be looked in on and turned and shaken so that the slices cook evenly to a nice golden color on the outside, but remain soft and tender on the inside.
Skillet potatoes can be augmented and seasoned in a variety of ways. My neighbor Beppi always par-boils them whole, then peels them, then cuts them into large chunks and sautees them in oil and butter with a little onion. My mother, on the other hand, always cut them into thin slices and sauteed them raw with slivers of garlic and sometimes a bit of tomato.
Tonight I’ve chosen my mother’s method, with the exception of the tomato. Also, I’ve chosen to cook my garlic in large pieces and remove it prior to serving the dish (to myself). Also, I’ve thrown in a sprig of rosemary because I have a basketful of dried rosemary branches from Beppi’s garden that I love to use all winter.
The following recipe assumes you have a piece of already cooked sausage to use, but otherwise, eliminate the sausage and eat the potatoes by themselves or with a salad and some cheese–you won’t notice anything missing.
Skillet Potatoes and Sausage
One large or 2 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1/4″ slices
2 cloves garlic, cut in half
2 tbls olive oil
1 small sprig rosemary
1 piece of boiled sausage (or cured sausage like chorizo or chicken-apple sausage)
salt and pepper to taste
In an 8″ nonstick skillet, begin browning the garlic slowly in the oil for about 5 minutes. Add rosemary, potatoes and cover, keeping heat on low. Stir and shake every 5 minutes or so, until the potatoes are light golden brown and tender 9about 25 minutes). Move the potatoes aside a bit and add sausage (if using) and continue browning potatoes and sausage for another 5 to 8 minutes.
Uncover and saute for a minute or two until all looks crispy and irresistable.
Make sure they’re salty enough!