Fried Apples-n-Onions-n-Potatoes

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York  I  Thursday, 19 July 2018

If you’ve ever read Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, you already know about fried apples and onions.

Farmer Boy is the story of Almanzo Wilder, the boy who grew up to become Laura’s husband. It takes place in 1866, in Malone, New York, which is on the eastern side of the state, very close to Canada. (Cold, brrr!)

Almanzo’s family was quite comfortable, especially when compared to Laura’s family, but they also worked very hard to make a success of their farm. Mrs. Wilder was a provident housewife, and Mr. Wilder was a smart and prosperous farmer. The children did their part, as well, and there was much work to be done.

The Wilders ate very well, and there was never a shortage of food at their house. As Laura writes the story, she takes great care to describe the food Almanzo and his family ate, and there was always a bountiful feast.

Compared with Laura’s family, Almanzo’s family was quite wealthy, and she describes their meals in dreamlike, wistful detail.

One of Almanzo’s favorite dishes, when he was a boy, was Fried Apples and Onions. In the book, Laura describes one time when he’s working very hard in the barns and fantasizing ahead to breakfast, just hoping his mother will make his favorite dish.

Then, when he finishes his chores and goes inside the farmhouse for breakfast, voila! His mother has made Fried Apples and Onions!

I’ve made this dish quite a few times before, starting with when I discovered The Little House Cookbook, by Barbara Walker, at my local library.

But then, many years ago, I started thinking about Grandpa Darrel’s Sheepherder Potatoes, which is a combination of fried potatoes and onions. I wondered what would happen if I combined the two recipes? Well, it turned out great!

FRIED APPLES-N-ONIONS-N-POTATOES
apples, any variety
onions, any color
potatoes, any variety
butter
brown sugar
salt and pepper

One night when you’re having baked potatoes for dinner, bake a few extra to sit aside for breakfast. I wash my potatoes, stab them three times on each side with a fork, wrap them in foil, and bake them about an hour at 350 degrees.

The next morning, before breakfast, cut the potatoes into about eight chunks each, leaving the skins on.

Slice your apples, skin and all, into eight parts, or even more if the apples are large, taking care to remove the seeds and stems. This recipe is a great way to use up some of your apples, if they’re past their prime and getting a bit soft.

Slice some onions (any color will do, but red onions give the dish more color) into thin strips.

Melt some butter in a large frying pan, until the pan is lightly coated. Place apples and onions in pan, cooking over low heat, and stirring occasionally.

Then, add a spoonful or two of brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like things, and how free you are with your calories. Turn the heat up a bit, and continue to stir until onions soften and apples begin to look a bit golden.

Don’t leave the stove as they are cooking, as it doesn’t take long for them to get overdone, once the heat is turned up.

Turn the stove heat back down. Push apple and onion mixture to the sides, and dump the potato chunks into the center of the pan, making sure the white parts of the potatoes (not the skins) are touching the frying pan. Allow the potatoes to brown a bit.

Stir the entire mixture of apples, onions, and potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.

For breakfast, this recipe tastes really good with an over-easy egg on the side, and orange juice to drink.

For dinner, this would be yummy as a side to pork chops or baked chicken. I haven’t tried that yet, but I’m positive it would taste great!