From the Motherland is a series where I pay homage to my Ukrainian heritage and share my favorite childhood recipes. Growing up, we ate these fried potatoes with mushrooms regularly – for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
If I had to compare the frequency with which Russian/Ukrainian people eat fried potatoes (zharenaya kartoshka) to something Americans eat with a similar voracity, I’d say breakfast cereal and skinless boneless chicken breasts and Wonder Bread – all combined.
Zharenaya kartoshka is the very foundation of our cuisine and the simplest of recipes. It’s literally just potatoes – peeled and sliced, fried in a generous glug of oil, with a heap of mushrooms on top. Russian fried potatoes have crispy, craggy edges and creamy interiors, and are supposed to feel just a tad too greasy. They’re not unlike diner potatoes/home fries, but you know… better.
Most importantly, they are not uniformly browned. Because they are pan-fried – not deep-fried – not all the potato pieces consistently make contact with the hot oil. Therefore, you end up with some golden brown bits and some lighter bits. Attempting to achieve uniformity is unnecessary. In my opinion, the combo of the two textures is the best part.
What’s In This Dish
Since this recipe is a staple of poverty cuisine, the ingredients are very basic: potatoes, onions, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, oil, salt, pepper, and dill. If you decide to make the dipping sauce, you’ll also need ketchup, mayo, mustard, and smoked paprika.
Garlic and dill are the main flavoring agents of Russian fried potatoes. Their spiciness and grassy freshness, respectively, tie the whole dish together. The raw garlic is stirred in at the very end – i.e. it’s just barely cooked by the residual heat of the mushrooms. Don’t be alarmed (just don’t plan on kissing anyone for a couple of hours).
How to Make Russian Fried Potatoes with Mushrooms
Cook the potatoes: To start, peel and cut your potatoes into thin-ish slices. Heat a generous amount of oil in the biggest non-stick skillet you’ve got, add the potatoes, and cover tightly with a lid for about 5 minutes. This technique traps the steam inside, which helps soften the potatoes.
Crisp the potatoes: Next, remove the lid, stir in a bit of diced onion and salt, and increase the heat. Cook the potatoes until they’re golden and crispy, about 15 minutes.
Cook the mushrooms: Meanwhile, saute shiitake mushrooms in a separate skillet. When they’re done, turn the heat off and stir in some crushed garlic. (Crushed garlic = garlic passed through a garlic press, an absolutely magical tool that transforms garlic into its garlic-iest self. It releases its essential oils and results in the tiniest pieces, meaning your food gets evenly and intensely perfumed with garlic flavor. If you don’t have a press, grate garlic on a Microplane or mince it as finely as possible.)
Make the sauce: While the vegetables are cooking, stir together ketchup, mayo, mustard, hot sauce, and smoked paprika. Be sure to taste before serving so you can adjust the seasonings to your prefence.
Serve: Top the potatoes with the mushrooms and sprinkle with fresh dill. Serve alongside the sauce.
More comfort food this way…
- Vegan Mushroom Carnitas Tacos
- Creamy Peanut Miso Noodles
- Pasta with Fried Leeks, Peas and Lemon
- Creamy Mushroom Tartine
Russian fried potatoes with mushrooms and dill are a staple in Eastern European cooking.
For the Vegetables
- About 4 tablespoons avocado, canola, or refined coconut oil, divided
- 2 pounds russet potatoes (about 3 large or 4 medium potatoes), peeled and cut into 1/3-inch-thick half-moons
- 1 small or 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
- 2 medium garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 tablespoon minced dill
For the Sauce
- 3 tablespoons mayo
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- About 1 tablespoon hot sauce, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon or brown mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Add the potatoes and cover tightly with a lid (See Note). Cook until the potatoes are starting to soften, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid, add the onion, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Raise the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are cooked through and crispy in places, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of a separate large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms with 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until they’re browned, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat off and stir in the garlic.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce by stirring all the ingredients together. Feel free to adjust the proportions to your taste.
- Transfer the potatoes to a serving platter, top with the mushrooms, and garnish with dill. Serve hot.
If you don’t have a tight-fitting lid, cover the skillet with a baking sheet instead.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe (without sauce)
- Calories: 310
Keywords: russian, ukrainian, potatoes, mushrooms