Jul 27, 2009


I've had a brunch series going on for the past couple of weeks and didn't advertise it that way. Because I didn't realize it until now. Brunch is something I like. I don't function well enough early in the morning to attempt cooking. Brunch gives me time to get a few cups of coffee down before having to do anything other than grunt responses.

It started with Perfect Scrambled Eggs. For brunch, especially a Jazz Brunch or the lesser known but incredibly fun Zydeco Breakfast, those eggs might have crawfish tails and/or andouille in them. They also might have hollandaise sauce over them (which means I'm not going to eat them). While these specialty brunches/late breakfasts are often designed for tourists, locals enjoy them too. I've been to the Zydeco Breakfast at Cafe des Amis and it's more casual and boisterous than a Jazz Brunch. At the zydeco version, the music is loud and people get up from their tables and dance. The jazz brunches I'm familiar with seem more refined. People sit at their tables, enjoying the food and listening to the music. Nothing wrong with either--just depends on what you're up for handling in the morning.

Second in this brunch series was Bananas Foster, which is often the ending to brunch. So I guess I should have saved that for last, but who can wait for Bananas Foster?

Today's brunch dish is one of my favorites--Brabant Potatoes. This is something I tend to notice on menus in and around New Orleans rather than in Cajun country. I haven't figured out where they come from exactly or how they got their name. Brabant is a region in Belgium. Belgium is thought to be where french fries originate. Perhaps there's something there. I'm sure European colonists brought them to us. My friend and fellow food blogger, Amy (Amy's WFD Blog) recently made Lyonnaise Potatoes. I was studying the recipe and saw similarities--potatoes and onions fried together.

While often on brunch menus, Brabant Potatoes can be served as a side dish for other meals too. I make this version of home fries anytime of the day--breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, brinner. Doesn't matter to me. I like the soft potatoey interior with the browned exterior. I like the kick from the Creole seasoning. I like the browned onions. Actually, there's nothing I don't like about it.

Brabant Potatoes
from Ms. enPlace

2-3 medium baking potatoes, cut into cubes
1 small onion
4 tablespoons butter
Creole seasoning to taste
salt to taste
parsley for garnish (optional)
garlic can also be added (1-2 cloves minced)

Place potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly tender. Do not overcook! Drain.

While potatoes cook, slice onion in thin rings or strips (not chopped). If using parsley and/or garlic, chop those now.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Get the pan and butter hot before adding the potatoes and onions. Let them sit and get browned before turning. Fry onion and potatoes until browned to your liking. Season with Creole seasoning and salt and cook a few minutes more. If using garlic, add it with the Creole seasoning. Taste to adjust seasonings, toss in parsley, and serve.

Mise en place for Brabant Potatoes. The parsley and garlic are extras. Just because. Today I'm going with parsley, but skipping the garlic. Green onions could be added too.
Peel potatoes and cube. Place in cold water and bring to a boil. Slice the onion, chop the garlic, and parsley (if using) while you wait.
One note: the onion should be sliced in strips or rings, not chopped. Chopped onion runs the risk of burning before the potatoes are done.

Cook the potatoes just until tender. Can't stress this enough...don't overcook! If the potatoes are overcooked, they'll fall apart and get mushy during the next step instead of crisping up. Then you may as well make mashed potatoes with caramelized onion. Which wouldn't be a bad. But it wouldn't be Brabant Potatoes either.

Now, here's my lazy little trick. I precooked the potatoes in the same pan I'm going to finish them in to cut down on dish washing. Just wipe the starch out of the pan before you move on to melting the butter.

Melt the butter over medium high heat. Make sure the pan and butter are good and hot before adding the potatoes. When the butter is foamy, add the potatoes and onions. Toss to coat in butter. If using garlic, wait a little longer on that.

Brown the potatoes and onions, turning occasionally. Don't continually stir; get some color to develop.

Once the potatoes and onion are brown, season with Creole seasoning and salt (if needed) and cook a few minutes more. If using garlic, now is the time to add it. Throw in a clove or two of minced garlic and cook for a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add chopped parsley and serve.

Here they are served with Crab Croquettes and Remoulade Sauce. Also good with Trout Amandine or in place of french fries with a Po'Boy.
Brabant Potatoes--good for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.

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