Fried Potatoes!

Fried Potatoes, like so many foods we call 'fried' in the South, are really not deep fried per se.  They are skillet fried and they are so good!  These potatoes can be served at any meal.  

They are great for breakfast with eggs and biscuits and gravy, some country ham or bacon and they are equally good for supper with pinto beans, collard or turnip greens and cornbread! 

Fried Potatoes have a different texture than say, French fries or typical hash browns.  They are soft and yummy on the inside, because you sort of steam them first, but they are crispy and browned on the outside from frying them uncovered at the end.  Not all sides will brown or crisp as you can see.  

One key to good fried potatoes is to use the right potato and to not move them around too much in the pan.  

Here is what you will need:

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 Tbs. bacon drippings
5-6 large Russet potatoes (baking potatoes work best)
1 medium sweet onion, diced (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

You will need a large skillet with a top.  If you use nonstick, you can use a bit less oil.  If you use cast iron, you will a bit more oil.  Either works fine.   Heat the oil and bacon drippings on medium high heat.  It needs to be hot enough to sizzle.  

Peel, wash and diced the potatoes.  The number of potatoes you use really depends on how many you are cooking for and how much they eat.  A good rule of thumb is one potato per person, if they are large potatoes, and in my family throw in an extra one or two, because they love some fried potatoes.

Carefully slide the potatoes into the skillet.  That oil will pop so be careful. If you are adding onion, add it now also.  I don't use the onion in my fried potatoes, mainly because my mother never did and my family doesn't like it.  I, personally, think it's  a nice addition.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I like a lot of black pepper on these.   

With a spatula, lightly toss the potatoes to coat them all with oil.  Cover with the skillet lid and reduce the heat just slightly.  Cook covered for about 12-15 minutes.  Check them about halfway to be sure the bottom isn't getting too brown.  This steams the potatoes and softens them.

Uncover them and with a spatula, start to turn them in sections so the underside is more on top. Sprinkle again with little salt and black pepper to taste. Turn the heat up a bit and let them fry uncovered for about 10 more minutes.  Turn them one more time and let them go about 5 minutes or until they are all tender and browned enough.  There is no real rule of when this is.   It's up to what you think and how brown you like them. 

 You don't want to cook them so long they get hard or steam them covered so long they fall apart.  Also, do not turn them too much.  We turned these three times basically.

When they are done, I turn them out on a paper towel lined dish.  Serve immediately!


Mama's Pecan Chicken Salad!

 My mother makes the best "Pecan Chicken Salad"!  She and one of her sisters used to own a restaurant and this was always one of their biggest sellers at lunch.  They usually sold this as a salad plated with fresh fruit around it.  I love it like that, but it's also really good on a fresh croissant as a sandwich.  This is so much better than any you can buy already prepared, unless you do get it at a deli or restaurant where they make it fresh daily and it's so easy, why not make it yourself for half the cost!  Here is what you will need:

4 cups cooked chicken breast meat, chopped or 2 (15oz). cans all white chicken  (SAM's sells some that is really good)
1 1/2 cups sliced seedless grapes (red or white)
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. lemon juice
3/4 cup pecans
1 cup mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients and stir together. This chicken salad is so good with fresh fruit or on croissants as a sandwich.

Cheese Stuffed Italian Meatloaf!

This "Cheese Stuffed Italian Meatloaf" puts a little different spin on the meatloaf and it is scrumptious!  It's meatloaf, three different cheeses seasoned with Italian seasonings!  What could be bad about that?  The kids tend to love this one, even those who turn their noses up at regular meatloaf.  Here is what you need for this meatloaf:
1  1/2 lbs. ground chuck
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 (.06 oz.) packet of dry Italian dressing  (Good Seasons make a good one)
2 Tbs. grated raw onion
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1 (24 oz.) jar of spaghetti sauce, divided ( I used Classico Tomato and Basil)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
6 slices provolone or mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, mix the ground chuck, eggs, Italian bread crumbs, the dry Italian dressing mix, grated onion, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, black pepper,  and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese.  I have just a word of advice on the meat you use for this.  The ground chuck  works best, because it has an 80/20 lean to fat ratio which is perfect.  Ground beef will too fatty and greasy and something like ground round will be too dry and tasteless.

Pour the spaghetti sauce in a bowl and mix in the brown sugar, garlic powder, basil and oregano.

Add 1 cup of the spaghetti sauce mixture to the meatloaf mixture.  Mix well, but don't over mix it.  That makes the meat loaf dry and too tight.   On a piece of parchment paper, shape the meat into a rectangle.  Pat it out to about one half inch thickness.

Lay the cheese slices evenly over the top of the meat.  Using the parchment paper, roll the meat loaf into a roll.  Roll this as tight as you can without it breaking.  

Place into a 9"x13" baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray or lined with nonstick foil.  Tuck the ends of the roll in and under so they are sealed.  If you leave them open your cheese might run out while baking.  As long as you fold and seal it stays in nicely.  

Pour the rest of the spaghetti sauce over the top of the meatloaf, be sure all surfaces are covered in sauce.  Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan cheese over the top.  Place in the preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 50 minutes.  After 50 minutes remove from the oven and sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the top.   Turn the oven up to 425 degrees and place back in the oven for about 10 minutes.

When the cheese is browned and bubbly it's ready to take out of the oven!  Allow to stand for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing so the cheese has time to tighten back up and it will slice nicer.

This slices really nicely!  See all of that cheesy wonderfulness!  It's ridiculously good!

The whole family will love this one y'all!