Le Patate di Campagna

Country-Style Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • For

    6

    Persons

Appears in

Marcella's Italian Kitchen

Marcella's Italian Kitchen

By Marcella Hazan

Published 1986

  • About

Little more than ten miles southwest of Bologna, a group of hills, covered with vines and cherry trees, forms a territory known as Monte San Pietro. My husband escorts our classes there for a visit to a wine estate. After the visit, we all meet for dinner in a trattoria in the nearby hamlet of Stiore. Known as Perla, the trattoria is restaurant, billiard parlor, grappa bar all at the same time, a gathering place for the local farmhands, other workers, and sometimes their employers. Four old men on mandolins and guitars play polkas, waltzes, tangos. Perla is run by a family of three, each performing a vital function: The mother cooks; Perla, the daughter, waits on table; the father plays cards and drinks with the customers.

Stiore is so small it is not on any map, but the people, the music, the food -have registered it securely in the memories of hundreds of my students. One of the dishes that many of them have asked the recipe for is Perla’s mother’s potatoes, pan-fried in lard with garlic and rosemary. What makes them memorable is a thin, crackling crust that encloses a tender, almost creamy center. It is not at all difficult to do, as you will find from the instructions in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boiling potatoes
  • ½ cup lard
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled but not crushed
  • 1 short sprig fresh rosemary, about 3 inches long, or 1 teaspoon dried leaves
  • Salt

Method

  1. Peel the potatoes, dice them into 1-inch cubes, wash them in 2 or 3 changes of cold water, and pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
  2. Choose a lidded heavy frying pan, preferably iron, where the potatoes will fit without overlapping. Put in the lard and turn on the heat to medium high.
  3. When the lard is wholly melted and hot (but take care not to let it reach the burning point), put in the potatoes, the garlic, and the rosemary. Turn the potatoes until all the pieces are coated with lard. Cover the pan and turn down the heat to medium.
  4. Cook without stirring until the sides of the potatoes in contact with the bottom of the pan have formed a well-colored crust. Loosen the potatoes from the pan and turn them. Add salt.
  5. Cover the pan and cook for 5 or more minutes, until the sides of the potatoes next to the bottom of the pan have formed a crust. Test the potatoes for doneness with a fork. If tender, raise the heat and cook, uncovered, for 1 minute more, stirring frequently.
  6. Transfer the potatoes to paper towels to drain, using a slotted spoon or spatula. Do not let them sit on the paper towel longer than a moment, however, or they will lose crispness.