Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Southern Fried Potatoes

Southern Fried Potatoes
The Chuckwagon cook often carried potatoes to feed the working wranglers of the trail drives. Sometimes chopped up and used in stews, sometimes made into mash potatoes and if he was really busy with many chores mending saddles or nursing old cow hands, he might not even take time to remove the peel. Just wash, cut and fry. The Southern Fried style was easily cooked in the cast iron skillet that the cowboys enjoyed eating and it didn't take but one time eating them with the peels on for it to become a regular favorite.


  • Potatoes - (5 medium large golden to serve four)
  • Dry Onion - (1 large Yellow Onion) I like using a Texas 10-15 sweet onions but sometimes will use one green onion.
  • Garlic  2 cloves
  • Savory 1/4 tsp
  • Salt   1 tsp
  • Black pepper 1/2 tsp crushed
  • Rosemary  1/2 tsp for seasoning and 1 stem for decortive servings
  • Butter/margarine ( 2-3 tbsp )
  • 13 inch Cast iron Skillet

First wash potatoes skins. Next we will cut the potato leaving the skin on. Do not peel. Cut round slices about 3/8" inch think across each potato. Note:  IF you cut the slices larger, it takes longer for the center of each slice to cook. Cut thinner, then you might as well be making potato chips.

Dice onion.  Pre heat skillet with a light coat of oil. While heating, Remove garlic skins and crush. Place the garlic and onion into the skillet and add butter. Stir  as the butter melts then place potatoes into skillet, add seasonings and cook for about 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Turn as necessary to prevent burning. Once cooked, remove skillet and allow to sit for two minutes before serving. If desiring to use a rosemary stem for decoration, using a separate small skillet, place rosemary into skillet with only enough oil to coat the bottom and quickly seer over high heat while potatoes cool. This only takes about 1-2 minutes. Remove and garnish servings of potatoes with one stem about 2-3" inch in length. 

Rio Grande Papas:
Follow the same directions, except replace the use of Rosemary with Chipolte powder or chili powder sprinkled over top and garnish with a dash of Cilantro.  

Potatoes Facts:  

The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop that dates back 10,000 years ago. First domesticated in the southern regions of Peru about 2000-3000 BC. Today potatoes have become an integral part of much of the world's cuisine and are the world's fourth-largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize.

1540 - Pedro de Cieza de Leon (1518–1560), Spanish Conquistador and historian, who wrote about the potato in his chronicles

1565 - Spanish explorer and conqueror, Gonzalo Jiminez de Quesada (1499-1579), took the potato to Spain in lieu of the gold he did not find. The Spanish though that they were a kind of truffle and called them "tartuffo." Potatoes were soon a standard supply item on the Spanish ships; they noticed that the sailors who ate papas (potatoes) did not suffer from scurvy.

1600 - In France and elsewhere, the potato was accused of causing not only leprosy, but also syphilis, narcosis, scrofula, early death, sterility, and rampant sexuality, and of destroying the soil where it grew.  

1845-1849 - The "Great Famine" or also called the "Great Starvation" in Ireland was caused because the potato crop became diseased. At the height of the famine (around 1845), at least one million people died of starvation. This famine left many poverty stricken families with no choice but to struggle for survival or emigrate out of Ireland. Towns became deserted, and all the best shops closed because store owners were forced to emigrate due to the amount of unemployment. Over one and a half million people left Ireland for North America and Australia.


Storing potatoes should be in a cool, dry and dark area that is ventilated to reduce the natural process of decomposition, which involves the breakdown of starch.  For long-term storage the idea temperature should be near 4 °C (39 °F). For short-term storage before cooking, temperatures at about 7 °C (45 °F) to 10 °C (50 °F) are preferred although often traveling along the trail drives or during the Oregon Trail, settlers might have to throw or peal decay off from the potato to prevent poising:


Potatoes contain toxic compounds known as glycoalkaloids, of which the most prevalent are solanine and chaconine. Solanine is also found in other plants in the family Solanaceae, which includes the deadly nightshade, henbane and tobacco as well as the potato, eggplant, and tomato. This toxin affects the nervous system, causing weakness and confusion.

These compounds, which protect the plant from its predators, are, in general, concentrated in its leaves, stems, sprouts, and fruits. Exposure to light, physical damage, and age increase glycoalkaloid content within the tuber;  the highest concentrations occur just underneath the skin. Cooking at high temperatures (over 170 °C or 340 °F) partly destroys these toxins.
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