Patate Maritate

Baked Sliced Potatoes with Mozzarella and Parmesan

Elisa, the woman from Benevento who gave me the recipes for pickled eggplant that appear, is my mother’s cleaning woman. When she arrives for work, the mutual good mornings are followed by a ritual exchange. I ask Elisa what she cooked the previous evening and, exultingly, she recites the specialties she prepared for her Giuseppe, trumpeting the names as though she were a general asked to cite the battles won.

Occasionally, a dish is new to me. One morning, to the usual question, Elisa exclaimed, “Patate maritate!” “Married potatoes? Married to whom?” I asked, not without the feeling that I was being led into a trap. But Elisa was serious: “Married to mozzarella, signora!”

Explanations followed, and so did the making of the dish. Sliced raw potatoes are layered in a pan with mozzarella and a mixture of Parmesan, garlic, and parsley, and they are baked for about 1 hour. There is nothing more to it than that, except that if you have available imported buffalo-milk mozzarella, use it. It will make a much happier marriage for the potatoes.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound boiling potatoes
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • ¾ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (Parmesan)
  • Salt
  • 5 tablespoons fine, dry, unflavored bread crumbs, toasted lightly in a pan as described
  • 10 ounces whole-milk mozzarella, chopped fine or grated on a grater’s largest holes

Method

  1. Turn on the oven to 400°.
  2. Wash the potatoes in cold water, peel them, and cut them into very thin slices. Put the slices in a bowl and toss them with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  3. In a small bowl mix the garlic, parsley, liberal grindings of pepper, and the grated Parmesan.
  4. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and toss to season them uniformly.
  5. Choose an oven-to-table baking dish where one-third of the potatoes will fit without too much overlapping. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan lightly with olive oil, then over it sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the bread crumbs.
  6. Cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of potato slices, using one-third of the total amount, overlapping them only slightly if necessary. Over the potatoes spread half the Parmesan mixture from the small bowl, and over this sprinkle half the chopped or grated mozzarella. Cover with another one-third of the potatoes, then the remaining half of the Parmesan mixture, and over it the rest of the mozzarella. Top with the remaining one-third of the potatoes. Over them sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs and pour the remaining olive oil, distributing it in a thin stream.
  7. Place the dish in the uppermost level of the preheated oven. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the potatoes feel tender when pricked with a fork. Allow to settle for a few minutes before serving.

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