I once asked IceDaddy what his favorite meal that I make for him is. His answer didn't surprise me much - he loves "sausage and 'taters." For those that don't speak Texan, that means smoked sausage and sliced, browned up potatoes and a side of ketchup. This was a meal that we called "sausage and raw fries" growing up. I cannot explain the oxymoron of "raw fries;" I just accept that reality. It was both filling and sodium-laden and truly is something I consider comfort food. If we're having a bad day, generally we choose one of three options for dinner:
a) sausage and 'taters
b) an entire tube of cookie dough
option c) is to consume both - this is reserved for emergency purposes only as the paramedics must be standing by at all times when this occurs
So here's my recipe and variations that I make to satisfy his need for comfort food. I've recently started mixing it up a bit by adding garlic powder.
Sausages and 'Taters
1 link smoked sausage (1 lb total); I love jalapeno sausage as a variation
2 large russet potatoes, cleaned and sliced thin
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1-2 Tbsp. butter
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder
Preheat skillet to medium-high and add olive oil. When oil is hot, place a layer of potatoes in the skillet. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Continue adding potatoes and season. Saute until potatoes are cooked through and browned - I usually brown, add some water and cover to steam through for about 5 minutes, and uncover. When cooked through, add butter to skillet for final browning and flavor. While cooking potatoes, add sausage to a saucepan with a little water. Heat on medium until sausage is warmed, water has cooked off, and sausage starts to brown.
**if you have time, grill the sausage - it tastes even better that way
I have to say, the meals that I grew up with and remember most are actually meals my Gramma (dad's mom) made. She is, as my brother said as a young child, "a good cooker" and all six of her grandchildren have requests for her to cook their favorites when they visit. Due respect to my cousins that each have their favorites, it's my blog and I get to say which ones are mine! :)
To explain my favorites, a little insight on my heritage. I am from a blend of Polish and German ancestors (maybe some Russian too, depending on whom in the family you ask) and was raised as a young child in Milwaukee. My early culinary memories tend toward sausage, potatoes, and foods with German or Polish inspirations. Of all the meals we had, the one that we consistently request is Gramma's breaded pork steaks, dilled mashed potatoes, applesauce, and sauerkraut. Now, before you haters that dis sauerkraut get all upset, if you've never had sauerkraut cooked the way she makes it, you need to reserve judgment until you've tried it. Gramma rinses off the brine and then cooks it with brown sugar and caraway seeds so that the taste becomes sweet and sour and morphs from the hot dog topping we usually know.
The other meal that is uniquely hers is Fireman's Stew. I honestly have no idea how it got that name, but it takes advantage of one of the most underutilized tools in our kitchen - the pressure cooker. Fireman's stew is a meat-and-potatoes 50's kind of meal. It was something my dad grew up eating and my brother and I requested often when visiting Gramma in Milwaukee. So simple - layers of peeled, sliced russet potatoes, ground beef, and canned whole tomatoes sliced up (with juice poured over) and salt and pepper between each layer, cooked in the pressure cooker and served with a side of green beans.
I sit here in Gramma's kitchen as I visit her for Mother's Day weekend and think back to all of the wonderful food that has come out of a room with 24 inches of counter space! How she did it, I will never know, but I can tell you that what my cousins and I will fight for most when she's gone is her recipe book!