Patate in tecia

Frankcontorno, Friuli-Venezia Giulia33 Comments

Patate in tecia

It’s back to Trieste this week with a lovely side dish from the region of Friuli Venezia-Giulia. Chiara Giglio, a fellow blogger who hales from that fair city, left a comment on last week’s gulasch triestino post, mentioning that she liked to serve her goulash with a potato side dish called patate in tecia. I hadn’t heard of the dish, so of course I had to look into it—starting with Chiara’s own recipe of course— and give it a try! Here’s what I found…

Patate in tecia are potatoes that are boiled, cut into pieces, then pan-fried with onions and pancetta until they develop a nice golden crust. If you want to get fancy, you can make them into a kind of potato pancake akin to frico, but for an easy homestyle version you can simply serve them as a kind of hash. (Indeed, Americans readers will no doubt see a distinct similarity here to hash browns.)

Fancy or not, patate in tecia are really simple to make. And with its flavor base of cured pork and onion and its lovely golden crust, this a very tasty dish, a lovely accompaniment indeed to gulash triestino or, for that matter, any roast or braised meat dish.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 1 kilo (2 lbs) yellow fleshed potatoes such as bintje or Yukon Gold (see Notes)
  • 100g (3-1/2 oz) pancetta
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced or diced
  • 50g (2 oz) lard, butter or olive oil
  • homemade broth
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Boil the potatoes, still in their jackets, until they are almost tender but still a bit firm. Let cool, and when they’ve cooled off enough to handle, peel and cut them up.

While the potatoes are boiling, in a large non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron or carbon steel skillet, gently sauté the pancetta and onion in your chosen fat until lightly brown.

Add the cut up potatoes to the skillet and raise the heat. Turn the potatoes with the pancetta and onion. Add a half-ladleful of broth and let simmer until the potatoes are fully tender, adding more broth if needed. Turn the potatoes from time to time and mash them with a fork into a rough hash. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Once the potatoes are fully tender, let any remaining broth evaporate. Continue to sauté but stop turning the potatoes so a nice crust forms on the bottom.

Now you can either flip the potatoes over in one piece, forming a kind of pancake, as you might a frittata or, closer to this dish, a frico, or simply turn flip the potatoes in parts with a spatula. Keep flipping if need be so the potatoes have a nice crust all over.

Serve hot.

Patate in tecia

Notes

The name patate in tecia refers to the cast iron skillet or tecia traditionally used for pan-frying the potatoes. Today a non-stick pan is de rigueur with home cooks, though a well-seasoned cast iron or carbon steel skillet would also work beautifully, closer to the original.

Most recipes I’ve seen simply call for “potatoes” but those that do specify tend to recommend the yellow fleshed variety. Chiara recommends bintje potatoes, a yellow fleshed Dutch varietal widely available in Europe. Here in the US, Yukon Gold would be a good choice (and often recommended as a substitute for bintje).

Variations

In addition to whether you wish to serve your patate in tecia as a pancake or a hash, there are other rather subtle variations among recipes. For example, in most I’ve seen, you parboil the potatoes, then finish off the cooking in the skillet, usually (but not always) adding a bit of broth to the potatoes to help them along. But in other recipes you pre-cook the potatoes until fully tender, then brown them in the skillet without adding any broth.

Indeed, Chiara’s recipe relies entirely on dry heat cooking. She doesn’t boil her potatoes at all, but rather dry-cooks them in a special purpose clay pot called a patatiera, which she finds gives them superior flavor. Similarly, she doesn’t employ any broth during the pan-frying either.

Another variation comes in the mashing of the potatoes. In some recipes, in particular those where the potatoes are pre-cooked until fully tender, you “pre-mash” the potatoes with a fork before adding them to the skillet. In others, the potatoes are cut up but only mashed while they’re in the skillet. I doubt it makes all that much difference to the end result, so do what best suits your cooking style. But either way, you’re not aiming for a smooth purée but more of a hash.

The most traditional recipes for patate in tecia call for pan-frying the potatoes in lardo. The lardo is finely minced then renders as it sautés along with the onions before adding the potatoes. Typically, no pancetta is added when lardo is used. Most contemporary recipes call for pancetta instead of the lardo. As described above, it’s sautéed along with the onions in fat, which can be lard (which is closest in taste to lardo of course), butter or—in Chiara’s recipe—olive oil.

Patate in tecia

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Friuil-Venezia Giulia
Keyword: pan-fried, saute

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo 2 lbs yellow fleshed potatoes such as bintje or Yukon Gold
  • 100g 3-1/2 oz pancetta cut into small dice
  • 1 small onion finely sliced or diced
  • 50g 2 oz lard, butter or olive oil 
  • homemade broth
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Boil the potatoes, still in their jackets, until they are almost tender but still a bit firm. Let cool, and when they've cooled off enough to handle, peel and cut them up. 
  • While the potatoes are boiling, in a large non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron or carbon steel skillet, gently sauté the pancetta and onion in your chosen fat until lightly brown. 
  • Add the cut up potatoes to the skillet and raise the heat. Turn the potatoes with the pancetta and onion. Add a half-ladleful of broth and let simmer until the potatoes are fully tender, adding more broth if needed. Turn the potatoes from time to time and mash them with a fork into a rough hash. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Once the potatoes are fully tender, let any remaining broth evaporate. Continue to sauté but stop turning the potatoes so a nice crust forms on the bottom. 
  • Now you can either flip the potatoes over in one piece, forming a kind of pancake, or simply turn flip the potatoes in parts with a spatula. Keep flipping if need be so the potatoes have a nice crust all over. 
  • Serve hot. 

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33 Comments on “Patate in tecia”

  1. The food community is so amazing! I love how Chiara introduced you to a new dish that you’ve never made before. I do see the similarities to hash browns although the bits of pancetta in there take this to a whole new level. This could be a side dish for dinner or even a hearty brunch. Thanks, Frank and Chiara!!

    1. Yep that’s the beauty of getting to know other foodies and bloggers, even if only virtually. I agree the dish is definitely hearty enough it could be a great main course as well as a side.

  2. While I’m familiar (And do love) this method of cooking potatoes and I’ve tried similar recipes, but this Patate in tecia is something new to me. How delicious – simple yet outstanding combination of flavours and textures!

  3. You seem to be pretty much into your Friuli period ^^ It’s funny to hear about such specific Italian recipes that are actually from a well defined region but poorly known outside! Looks mouth-watering 🙂

  4. I love the term potatoes in their jackets, sounds like a direct translation. I have a few spuds leftover from our New Year’s Eve dinner so I’ll give these a try, the bacon and crust sound absolutely delicious.

  5. Sono veramente felice che tu abbia seguito il mio consiglio e preparato le patate in tecia, l’aspetto è molto “triestino”, sei stato bravissimo Frank, complimenti e grazie !

  6. Delightful! Methinks this is another recipe which originally ‘wandered’ down from Austria? I eat potatoes but rarely these days but remember dishes like this from my childhood in the Baltics . . . well, the potatoes were usually sliced, and speck was there instead of pancetta . . . your version really looks appetizing!

    1. It’s possible. I understand that they also make these in Slovenia, which is as far north as I was able to trace the recipe. But as you say, similar recipes exist all over central Europe.

  7. Coincidence is a funny thing, isn’t it? I finished my meal plan for the week last night and decided to make something I found online — which is similar to your recipe though it uses sausage instead of the pancetta. And it is topped with egg and baked. So, knowing you and the quality of your recipes, I will be making Patate in Tecia now instead. Thanks, Frank.

    1. un’altra variante è cuocerle nel coccio speciale per patate(si chiama patatiera),però bisogna stare molto attenti che non si brucino. Poi , una volta cotte,vengono schiacciate con la forchetta e aggiunte in padella a pancetta e cipolla

      1. Si tratta di una patatiera come questa, vero? Nella descrizione c’è scritto “La cottura va effettuata a secco senza aggiunta di acqua, oli o altri condimenti liquidi.”

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