Pop’s Potatoes

Every family has one of those recipes that is frequently requested by friends to be served at special occasions or parties. Usually their secret recipe is fiercely protected and only passed on from generation to generation. I was fortunate enough while cottaging with his family to play sous chef to my boyfriends father as he created his signature dish, Greek-style potatoes. Taught to him by a Greek neighbour this is one of those recipes that requires a handful of this or a shake of that, one that has no specific quantities to the ingredients yet can feed close to 20 people. As I show you step by step how these potatoes are made I’ll try my best to give you an idea of how much of each ingredient we used but the real guideline is lots of tasting and plenty of practical experience.  The following guidelines made 3 baking pans full of potatoes.

You need:

  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Red Peppers
  • Cubanelle Peppers
  • Banana Peppers
  • Olive Oil
  • Tomato Paste
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Hot Sauce
  • Kielbasa
  • Paprika
  • Like any great recipe that feeds a whole bunch of people there is plenty of prep work involved.  My first official job as sous chef was the peeling of the potatoes.  A whole bag and a half of them to be exact.  These were sliced into large wedges.  This is so they don’t get mushy during their long cooking time.

    While I worked on the potatoes, my head chef peeled and chopped about 5 heads of garlic.  Sounds like a lot but really it’s not that strong.

    He also sliced a whole pile of onions. Sniff!

    Lucky for me the peppers had been sliced ahead of time and frozen.  These we had to thaw on the BBQ before using. I can’t say exactly how many of each but I do know that the red peppers and the cubanelles were about the same and the banana peppers were about half of that.  Probably the best way to tell proportions for this recipe is this; if you took a set of nesting mixing bowls the potatoes would fill the largest, the onions the middle and the 3 different peppers would fill the smallest. Hope that helped.

    Now that the prep is done it’s on to the cooking.  You are going to need a big pot.  Pour in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot about 1/2 inch deep.

    Add the garlic.  You should have the heat set at about medium high.

    Pour in your potatoes.

     Add a palm full of black pepper.

    And another of salt.

    Stir really well to coat everything in the oil, garlic and spices.

    Let it cook about 20 minutes before adding the onion.

    Again give it a good stir and let it cook for another 20 minutes.

    Here the measurement gets a little tricky.  You want to add tomato paste however too much will make it more Italian tasting than Greek.   Go by colour here.  Start with half the can, mix it together then repeat until you get something resembling the final picture in this little series.

    About 20 minutes later you will add the peppers. Because we had to thaw them we had a fair bit of juice that we added along to the pot.  If you were using fresh peppers you may need to add a cup or two of water to help with the cooking.

    You want to leave the pot to simmer for a while.  The guideline is basically this.  When the juices cover the whole thing and the potatoes are tender it’s done cooking in the pot.

    At some point you can add the hot sauce.  Again it’s all measurement by eye.  If you like spicy go a little heavy handed.  Prefer mild? Go a little lighter or leave it out all together.

    While the potatoes are cooking you want to start slicing the kielbasa.  Good advice is to always buy more than you think you need.  Nimble fingers are forever snatching at samples.

    Overlap the slices along the edge of your baking pan.

    Make sure you taste the broth in the potatoes as well to make sure it’s seasoned how you like it.  Here is what I mean by knowing the potatoes are done. They are covered in juices and fork tender.

    Carefully pour the potatoes into the middle of the baking pan, spreading them out to the sides to hold up the kielbasa. 

    Top with extra pieces of kielbasa and sprinkle with paprika.

    Finally you are going to place the pans in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes-40 minutes or until they are golden on top.

    These potatoes are great as a full meal with a side salad.  You can substitute any meat for the kielbasa or leave it out totally and serve it as a side dish.  Which ever way you do remember that practice will make it perfect for you.

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