Saturday, September 3, 2011

Andouille Breakfast Potatoes

These breakfast potatoes are one of my kids' favorite weekend breakfast choices.  My son Brady calls them "Papa Potatoes."  At Papa's house, they call them "Brady Potatoes."  Ha!  It's a debate we have yet to settle... but regardless, everyone loves these.  

The flavor experience is this: a perfectly cooked potato that is slightly crispy crunchy on the outside, but almost buttery soft on the inside; sweetness from the almost caramelized onions; smokiness from the andouille sausage; then the assertively pine-like fragrance and pungent flavor of rosemary brightens the whole bite!

Interested yet?
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Ingredients:
  • enough potatoes to feed your "crew" (enough to fill the bottom of a black iron skillet)
  • 1/2 pound smoked andouille sausage (or good smoky pork sausage), cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced 
  • 1sprig of fresh rosemary, stripped from the stems
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil 
  • Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning - to taste 
Step-by-Step:
Cut up potatoes into half inch chunks.  I like to use the small red potatoes.  
The point here is to par-boil them before adding them to the skillet.  Raw potatoes would be burnt on the outside before the inside was cooked.  Chop, cover with water, pop them into the microwave for about 10 minutes until they are fork tender but still firm (but not breaking apart).  Drain the cooked potatoes in a colander.  You could also use left over cooked potatoes (baked potatoes?) for this if you have them.
Chop up a small sweet onion.  It will seem like a lot, but they cook down an awful lot.
See this butcher paper?  This smoked sausage came from a small business in South Louisiana that makes smoked meats....definitely not the garden variety grocery store sausage.  Yum!  But if you are not lucky enough to live near one of these types of places, use the smokiest andouille sausage your grocer has to offer.  It doesn't necessarily need to be spicy (that is entirely up to your palate), but you do want to go for SMOKY. I used one "side" or half of this sausage.  That probably came to half a pound.
Slice the sausage in whatever size you desire.  I prefer "coins" because they stay a little softer when you render the fat and cook them.  My kids prefer the coins cut into quarters because they get crunchier.
Add the sausage to a black iron skillet to start rendering the fat.  This smokey fat will be an important factor in flavoring our potatoes!


When the sausage is starting to crisp up, add the chopped onions to them.  You may need to turn down the heat to medium and cook the onions a little lower to get them to a nice caramelization level without burning them.  
Out to the garden now for some fresh rosemary.  You can still see the dew drops on them.  :-)  The rosemary brings the flavor palate to a whole new level.  If you are rosemary adverse, you could use fresh oregano or parsley.  - but our family likes the rosemary.  I used about a full sprig.

So with all this wandering through the garden and admiring the dewy herbs, don't forget about what's going on in the skillet.  Once the onions are soft and brown, remove the sausage and onions to a bowl.... but keep as much of the sausage grease as you can in the pan.
To the sausage grease, add maybe another tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil to the pan and then add the drained, cooked potatoes.
You ideally want the potatoes to fit in a single layer covering the bottom of the skillet.  Once you get them in there, DO NOT mess with them for a while!!  You want to sort of sear them to create that crunchy crust.  Also, if you stir them around too much, they will mush up.
Season with Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning....or your creole seasoning of choice.  Remember, this can get pretty spicy.  I think there may be a "lite" version of this in the seasoning isle of the grocery store if you are sensitive to heat.  Alternatively, you could use salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders.
Cook them on medium to medium-high heat until the bottom of the potatoes are golden brown.  Then turn them with a metal spatula.
While the potatoes are putting on that golden coat of crispy crunchy goodness, strip the rosemary from the stems and chop them (medium-fine).  To strip the rosemary, hold the stem at the end and pull back on the tender leaves towards yourself with your thumb and index finger. 

Remember!  It's essential that you continue to season at each step.  These are potatoes.  Potatoes need lots of seasoning or else they will be bland!  Do not under season them, or you will be disappointed.

Once the potatoes are golden brown, crunchy on the outside, and soft on the inside, add the sausage and onions back to the skillet.
Turn off the heat and add the chopped rosemary to the potatoes.  Check for seasoning again.
While the potatoes are cooling down from molten lava status to just hotter' than Hades, grab a couple of eggs.....  A little butter flavored cooking spray, salt and pepper.... 
Gently turn while still soft.... just after all the whites have set.
Add the andouille sausage breakfast potatoes to a plate....  (this is where it ends for my kiddos, except maybe for the addition of a big Southern style biscuit with jelly.)

But for a more grown up version, add that soft-medium fried egg on top of the potatoes.  Garnish with a tiny bit more of the chopped rosemary.  When you cut into the egg, the rich yolk will ooze down into the potatoes.  Now can you just taste it?


My mother does an alternate version of this where she leaves the potatoes in the pan, makes a "well" in the center, then breaks the egg into the middle.  She lets the egg cook right in the middle, like a nest. So many endless variations!  Isn't cooking fun?!!

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Written Method for Andouille Potatoes
Prep - Cut up potatoes into half inch chunks.  I like to use the small red potatoes.  The point here is to par-boil them before adding them to the skillet.  Raw potatoes would be burnt on the outside before the inside was cooked.   Chop, cover with water, pop them into the microwave for about 10 minutes until they are fork tender but still firm (but not breaking apart).  Drain the cooked potatoes.  Chop up a small sweet onion.  Use the smokiest pork or andouille sausage your grocer has to offer.  It doesn't necessarily need to be spicy (that is entirely up to your palate), but you do want to go for SMOKY. Slice the sausage in whatever size you desire.  I prefer "coins" because they stay a little softer when you render the fat and cook them.  My kids prefer the coins cut into quarters because they get crunchier.

Cook - Add the sausage to a black iron skillet to start rendering the fat.  This smoky fat will be an important factor in flavoring our potatoes!  When the sausage is starting to crisp up, add the chopped onions to them.  You may need to turn down the heat to medium and cook the onions a little lower to get them to a nice caramelization level without burning them.  Once the onions are soft and brown, remove the sausage and onions to a bowl.... but keep as much of the sausage grease as you can in the pan.  To the sausage grease, add maybe another tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil to the pan and then add the drained, cooked potatoes.  You ideally want the potatoes to fit in a single layer covering the bottom of the skillet.  Once you get them in there, DO NOT mess with them for a while!!  You want to sort of sear them to create that crunchy crust.  Also, if you stir them around too much, they will mush up.
Season with Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning....or your creole seasoning of choice.  Remember, this can get pretty spicy.  I think there may be a "lite" version of this in the seasoning isle of the grocery store if you are sensitive to heat.  Alternatively, you could use salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders.  Cook them on medium to medium-high heat until the bottom of the potatoes are golden brown.  Then turn them with a metal spatula.
While the potatoes are putting on that golden coat of crispy crunchy goodness, strip the rosemary from the stems and chop them (medium-fine).  To strip the rosemary, hold the stem at the end and pull back on the tender leaves towards yourself with your thumb and index finger.  Remember!  It's essential that you continue to season at each step.  These are potatoes.  Potatoes need lots of seasoning or else they will be bland!  Do not under season them, or you will be disappointed.

Once the potatoes are golden brown, crunchy on the outside, and soft on the inside, add the sausage and onions back to the skillet.  Turn off the heat and add the chopped rosemary to the potatoes.  Check for seasoning again.

Serve - While the potatoes are cooling down from molten lava status to just hotter' than Hades, grab a couple of eggs.....  A little butter flavored cooking spray, salt and pepper.  Gently turn while still soft.... just after all the whites have set.  Add the andouille sausage breakfast potatoes to a plate.  As a more grown-up option, add that soft-medium fried egg on top of the potatoes.  Garnish with a tiny bit more of the chopped rosemary.  When you cut into the egg, the rich yolk will ooze down into the potatoes.  Now can you just taste it?

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