Potatoes Pizzaiola: Patate alla Pizzaiola

Potatoes Pizzaiola:  Patate alla Pizzaiola

Who doesn’t love fried potatoes?  Pizzaiola means pizza style, or in this case Sicilian style pizza.  This dish is made with fried potatoes which are layered, smothered in marinara sauce topped with oregano and grated cheese, and then the whole concoction is baked.  It’s kind of like a potato lasagna.  Just in case you’re wondering where the mozzarella is – Sicilian pizza (sfincione) does not contain mozzarella.  This is a great side dish to serve with breaded cutlets, simple grilled meats, and Italian sausage.

PIZZA STYLE POTATOES: PATATE ALLA PIZZAIOLA

Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 6 servings.

*Note:  If the tomatoes you are using are packed in puree, you can eliminate the tomato paste.

Ingredients:
3 pounds Russet potatoes (about 3 large)
1/2 medium onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons olive oil + 1/2 cup olive oil for frying
1(28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and juices reserved
3 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
3 fresh basil leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/3 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
Salt and black pepper

COOK THE POTATOES:  Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 10 to 12 minutes.  Be careful not to overcook the potatoes, they should only be cooked half way through.  Drain the hot water from the potatoes, cover with cool water and let sit 10 minutes to stop further cooking.  Remove potatoes from the water, transfer to a plate, and let cool completely.

MAKE THE SAUCE:  Finely chop the tomatoes and combine with juices in a medium bowl.

Heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook over medium-high heat until soft, about 7 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and juices, tomato paste, and basil.  Thin with water if necessary, depending on what brand of tomatoes you use, to achieve a medium consistency.  When sauce begins to bubble, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Discard basil leaves after cooking.

FRY THE POTATOES:  Heat a thick layer of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Peel the skins from the potatoes using the tip of a paring knife.  Cut potatoes into 1/8-inch thick slices.

Working in batches, brown the potato slices on each side.  Season with salt while cooking.  Drain on paper towels.

BAKE THE POTATOES:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Using a 2-quart baking dish, place a layer of potatoes on the bottom.

Spoon some of the tomato sauce on top.  Sprinkle some oregano and then cheese.  Repeat layering remaining potatoes with sauce, oregano, and cheese.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until sauce begins to bubble and potatoes are heated through.

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