January 11, 2011
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These tasty fried potatoes are sometimes called the Louisiana version of French fries and are often nothing more than deep-fried cubes of potato. The truth, however, is a bit more complicated. Brabant potatoes are named after the Duchy of Brabant, the area surrounding Brussels in what is now Belgium, which is also the original home of what we now call French fries. Most likely they found their way to Louisiana with the Acadians most of whom were from Normandy, not far from Belgium. Fannie Farmer included a recipe for Brabant potatoes in her 1918 cookbook. Authentic Brabant potatoes are more than simply cubical French fries. Traditionally the potato cubes are blanched before frying which gives them a nice crispy texture. Some recipes call for baking potatoes, some for boiling potatoes. I do not think it matters much and use whichever I have on hand. Some cooks deep fry them; some panfry them. I prefer the latter because it uses less oil. However you make them, the secret to good Brabant potatoes is plenty of garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and butter.
For 2 generous servings
- 1 pound potatoes
- 2 Tbsp. oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- ½ small onion, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. garlic, or more to taste, minced
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- Salt to taste
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Scrub or peel the potatoes and cut into large dice, about ½ inches on a side. Boil the potatoes for 5 minutes then drain and set aside to cool a bit. You can do this step ahead.
Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and a good grind of pepper. Sauté, tossing often, for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown and nicely crisp. Add the onion, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce and sauté for a minute or 2. Add the butter and toss to coat the potatoes. Season with salt to taste.