Less than a week to go before Thanksgiving, and here in the US we are researching recipes to find the perfect dishes for our upcoming celebration. In my family, mashed potatoes is THE favorite way of serving potatoes, and we probably have them at least once a week. But it’s not a dish we see often in Italy on our Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine adventures. We have potato gnocchi, and roasted potatoes, but not mashed. But I recently found a recipe from Northeastern Italy that offered a new spin on mashed potatoes, and we’ll be enjoying this along with our turkey on Thanksgiving.
This recipe is a classic dish from Trieste, Italy, a port city on the Adriatic, just to the north of Slovenia’s Istria peninsula. In Tecia refers to the cast iron pan that would normally be used to cook this dish; you will find many other recipes using this name, from pollo (chicken) to cavolo (cabbage) to melanzane (eggplant).
This is almost a cross between mashed potatoes and hash browns – you combine mashed potatoes with caramelized onions and bacon, then allow to sit and cook so a crust forms. Then you break up the crust so the nice, crispy, browned potato crust is mixed in with the creamy mashed potatoes. The best of both worlds!
If you are looking for other Italian-inspired Thanksgiving recipes, check out my posts on Cranberry Mostarda and Apple Cranberry Pie, Crock Pot Stock, The Best Leftover Turkey Soup, Brussel Sprouts with Almonds, and Sformato di Zucca (Pumpkin or Squash Custard.)
Patate in Tecia
2 1/4 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, minced
2 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped
1/2 cup beef broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a low boil and cook until tender. Drain, and then mash them. Set aside.
In a medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bacon, and lower the heat as much as you can. Cook the onions and bacon over very low heat until the onions are a deep golden brown, sweet and falling apart, adding just a bit of water if necessary. This will take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour. If you use more heat and less time, the onions will not be as sweet.
When the onions are done, spoon the potatoes on top of the onions. Add the beef broth, and season with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Allow to cook for 5 minutes as is. Then stir for 1-2 minutes, breaking up the crust that formed on the bottom. Stop stirring, and allow to cook for another 5 minutes, again allowing a crust to form on the bottom. You want a nice crust, which you can then break up into yummy crisp bits that will be stirred back into the potatoes. Stir for 1-2 minutes to break up the crust, then serve.
Advance prep: This can be reheated, but will likely need a little bit more broth added to moisten. You can also cook and mash the potatoes and caramelize the onions well in advance, then combine and finish of just before serving.