Fried potato goodness, on a campfire
Some of you may know, I am in love with camping. Those who didn’t already, now know. I just got done with a 6 week camping trip, and turned around and took my family camping this past weekend. It rained, and the boy was teething, or got a cold, or possibly both, but we were meeting another family there, and I have a 4-year old daughter who would have lost her damn mind if we had stayed home, so we packed everyone up and headed up to my favorite state park in the area, Promised Land State Park, in Promised Land, Pa.
I really like this place, especially with kids. a bunch of the trails are short, and the lake is within walking distance from any of the campsites at either camping ground that we like to go to. One of the grounds is near a decent playground too, so it’s really nice for keeping kids occupied, provided it isn’t raining….
OK, enough about rain. Let’s talk food. That’s really why you are here: for the food. I like to be adventurous. I cook with all the courage that my convictions have, and that just doesn’t change simply because I have left my comfortable kitchen with it’s multi-burner stove and oven with temperature controls. This weekend I decided to try frying some potato goodness in the form of something called a ‘potato ring’, a pizza using a dutch oven, a cobbler (also using a dutch oven), and donuts. The donuts failed. Probably I should have brought a thermometer and not just eyeballed the temperature of the oil. Turns out my eyeballs do not have laser thermometers in them….
The potato balls (I haven’t thought of a clever name for these) turned out pretty well though.
I got a recipe for Potato Rings here http://spoonforkbacon.com/2011/09/potato-rings-with-homemade-buttermilk-ranch/, and thought they looked fabulous. Then I noticed that I needed to refrigerate them to make them into rings, and I had already started, so I just made them into balls. Also I added bacon and never made the buttermilk dip. I brought heavy cream with me, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy buttermilk while camping. They were a hit with the adults and G, but the other girls were less than impressed. I try not to let it bring me down…
At any rate they were pretty easy. Here’s the recipe, with some more pictures, to hopefully make you drool:
Fried Potato Balls
3 potatoes (I baked mine in tin foil in the fire, but you could cut them up and boil them too)
1 onion, sliced and caramelized
3 slices bacon, chopped up
~1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
salt, pepper, garlic powder, to taste
~2 cups of flour
Heat some oil. I would use at least 2 inches of oil in the bottom of a good heavy pot. Nearly all my pots and pans are cast iron and so I am never far from something good and sturdy. I take them camping too, since they are so good for cooking over a fire.
Add the butter to the potatoes and mash. Add the cream until you have a thick-ish mixture. Add the onion and bacon and mix that up. I used purple potatoes for this, which is why the color looks funny, but they are so good, I couldn’t not use them.
Next you beat the eggs in one dish and divide the flour between 2 other dishes. add salt, pepper and garlic powder to all three dishes.
Form the potato mixture into little balls, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Roll each ball in one flour dish, then egg, then the other flour dish, making sure you coat the ball completely each time.
These are really not difficult.
Hopefully your oil is good and hot. To test this, first flick water on the top. If it starts to sizzle immediately, drop one ball in and if it floats and begins to turn golden, you are good to go. Drop about 4 or 5 more in, depending on the size of your pot. Don’t crowd them. You want about 1.5 – 2 inches (about 4-5 cm) between the balls, or else they won’t cook right.
Wait till the edges turn a nice golden color and flip the balls to cook evenly. Take them out and drain them on a paper towel.
The original recipe calls for chives and, like I mentioned, buttermilk ranch dip. I did not make the dip. Too ambitious for camping, honestly. ‘Why didn’t you just buy ranch dressing?’ you ask yourself. Well, I didn’t think that far ahead when I went to the grocery store, that’s why. There was ketchup available, but I think everyone just ate them plain. It was generally agreed that the bacon really amped up the final product.
The next time I try these, I am going to try to make the actual rings and possibly even the dip, but I will at least get ranch dressing to put on them. I’ll let you know how that goes. I may also try adding Panko crumbs to the second plate of flour for an extra bit of crunch. I will let you know how that goes too.
I can not say for certain whether or not the original recipe is amazing, or whether my recipe produced something similar enough in taste, at least, if not in prettiness. I can say, though, that these were a lot of fun to make, and they were pretty tasty.
I think you could probably prep them ahead of time, and get as far as forming the potato mixture in to balls at home in your kitchen and then just keep the balls in the fridge or cooler until you are ready to use them. They make a great snack while you wait for the main meal, which in this case was pizza, which I will share about in another post.