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Potatoes O’Brien

So Potatoes O’Brien hold a special place in my heart. I could tell you it’s due to my Irish heritage, and that this simple breakfast side dish came to me from my grandmother, but that would be a lie. I am Irish (both sides- both of my great-grandfathers immigrated from Ireland) and I do love potatoes, but that has no bearing on my nostalgia for this recipe.

My mother worked as a nurse. Some nights, she’d be at the hospital working. When I was young, our babysitter would watch us and fix us dinner. As we got older, my older sister would watch over me in the afternoons, and my dad would make dinner. Because we were children, he made fairly simple things but ones we adored. One dish was spaghetti, peas and butter, which we named Rubaboo. 

When I was around 11, I wanted to cook dinner for my sister and father while my mom was away. (Don’t worry- we always set aside a plate special for mom when she came home. I always looked forward to her coming home. She’d run a bath when she returned at night, which always woke me up as my bedroom was next door. I still love the sound of running water to this day). I remember finding a frozen bag of Potatoes O’Brien and asking my dad if I could cook it. 

I thought I was some grand chef, frying frozen potatoes, onions and pepper in oil and seasoning it all just right. I can still remember how delicious it tasted to me, because I made it, and how proud I was of myself, because my dad complimented the dish. 

It’s utterly simple to make from scratch. I like to cook the potatoes apart from the onions and peppers to retain more crunch. I also like to add a pinch of cayenne for a wee punch of heat. It’s still delicious to me and every time I make it I am brought back to that wonderful memory of cooking for the first time by myself. 

Oil, for frying
5 pototoes, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
pinch cayenne 

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the peppers and onions and a pinch of salt, pepper and cayenne and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove to the plate. 

Add the potatoes to the oil; fry until well browned, about 15 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the grease. Salt generously.

Toss the potatoes, pepper and onions together. Serve with a fried egg. Enjoy!


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