Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sheepherder Potoatoes

Finished dish... see how the water has thickened into a sauce?
Both of my Grandmas were young wives with young families to keep fed during The Depression. They had to get really good at making something out of nothing... My Grandma Clarke made a dish she called Sheepherder Potatoes that fits that description.

By the time I came along, she had a few more luxuries and made them in an electric skillet. That's what I remember and am trying to describe here. Once she had her skillet nicely warmed, she'd thinly slice potatoes and add them to the skillet with enough water to cover about 2/3 of the way and add a pat or two of butter and salt and pepper.  Be generous with the pepper!  Then she'd put the cover on and step away to do whatever else needed doing in her day while the potatoes simmered on low for a couple of hours.  They only need a gentle stir once in awhile when you check to make sure there's still water on them. When the potatoes are soft enough to start breaking apart, the dish is done.  Spoon out a taste and adjust the salt and pepper to taste.  The water will have thickened from the starch cooking out of the potatoes to make a peppery sauce, or gravy.

Everything is in the pan and ready to start simmering away.
Sounds simple?  It is.  And I think that's part of why it tastes so surprisingly good!  It's totally uncomplicated... just honest, simple, down-home comfort food.

I attempted to make some on top of the little Coleman Camp Stove that serves as my indoor cooking appliance on this mostly off-grid adventure.  I didn't achieve perfection with a dull knife, no cutting surface, imprecise heat, and a foil "lid" but I improvised with what I had and got close to what she made.  And they tasted pretty darned good!!

I can't remember now if there was a meat she served these potatoes alongside or not but while I was eating them I had visions of a green vegetable, maybe like sauteed spinach or chard, and a nice pan roasted trout.

Yup.  I'm STILL jonesing to go fishing...

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