National Potato Day

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So yesterday 8/19 was National Potato Day! I planned ahead this time and picked up 1.5 lb of potatoes when we were at the grocery store the other day. I grew up with the idea that potatoes were an essential part of living. Though we lived in California most of my childhood, we were midwestern at heart. My dad’s parents still live in North Dakota where my grandpa used to help harvest and pack potatoes (he lost is wallet in a potato field once and made his seven children return every day to try and find it). My grandma and I make a special Christmas treat each year, the principal ingredient of which is potatoes! Of course most of the “potatoes” I consumed growing up were of the instant whipped or boxed gratin variety. It is hard to for us to picture what a revelation these boxed versions of our favorite vegetable were to my grandmother and mother – no prep! no mess! consistency! To this day my grandma prefers to make our special Christmas treat with instant mashed potatoes instead of the real kind because the consistency is easier to work with. The only real potatoes I remember eating growing up, actually, are “baked” potatoes which were, in reality, microwaved, split, and stuffed with sour cream, cheese, etc.

The first time I made mashed potatoes from scratch, I was over-the-moon excited by my accomplishment which seemed like quite a feat compared to pouring flakes out of a box with butter in a saucepan. I was luckily guided by a Gourmet recipe on the science behind making mashed potatoes, so I learned not only how to do it but why water is the enemy of starch and how much cream/butter/etc. you really need to make the best dish.

To celebrate this year’s National Potato Day, I planned to follow the recipe for Apple-Bacon Roasted Golds in Victoria Shearer’s The Florida Keys Cookbook – pretty much the current bible of keys cooking. But of course I had to make some changes and substitutions, all of which I note below.

Apple-Bacon Roasted Golds (with some changes)

1.5 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 regular slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 C diced sweet onions (we used regular white onions)

1/3 C apple-cider vinegar (we used white wine vinegar bc we didn’t have this on hand)

1 Gala apple, peeled, cored, and diced

1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley (we omitted parsley)

1 teaspoon snipped fresh chives

As I’ve mentioned, our grocery store is going through a renovation, so we don’t always have or can’t always find everything we need thus the substitutions/omissions. Begin with your potatoes and dice them into even sized pieces (our were larger than we would have liked – go for 1/2 inch squares if possible). Coat the pieces with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees until pierced easily by a fork (the book says 18-20 min, but ours took longer perhaps because of the size or oven temp).

Meanwhile, cook bacon pieces until crisp, drain on paper towel. Cook onions until softened, turn down heat and add vinegar. Take off heat and add apple, bacon, and roasted potatoes to pot – fold together gently. Check seasonings, add parsley and/or chives if you have/want.

The resulting dish is probably one more savory than Victoria had in mind, but we enjoyed it quite a bit. The potatoes have a peppery, tangy bite that pairs well with the fatty, salty bacon and sweet apple pieces. Next time I would cut my potato pieces smaller, perhaps grate the apple instead of dice it, and add even a little more bacon (or thicker cut bacon) to take this tasty mixture over the the top. Mr. Foodie made lightly floured, pan-fried tilapia filets to go with our potatoes and a simple salad. All together a delicious Friday dinner. Did you celebrate National Potato Day? Do you have a favorite potato recipe? We’d love to hear about it!

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