Thursday, January 8, 2009

How Fitting that Potatoes Love a Good Murphy: Resurrecting a Jersey Classic

After an extraordinarily successful year in ubereating, it is needless to say, that I am excited for what 2009 has in store for The Ubereater himself. As is always the case, with the start of a new year, comes the opportunity to start fresh - to start anew - and of course eat even more.

To that effect, one of my many goals of 2009, aside from telling more stories, more often, is to expand the overall scope of Memoirs of an Ubereater, to be a reliable culinary reference, as well as a hotbed discussion center for any and every opinion there is about all aspects of food.

Food is, and always will be, the most salient aspect of my life, and while my love for all there is to eat in New York City is unwavering and everlasting, I mustn't ever neglect the genesis of that love - the catalyst to my culinary crusade. And that's the food of the home.

So while I may always remain focused on navigating New York's lavish labyrinth of hole-in-wall grub joints and PageSix-worthy dining rooms, 2009 will see a marked improvement in the attention I give to the food of the home...and specifically my home.

That said, as a Jersey-born Italian, there are certain components to the North Jersey Italian table that are immortal. One that has recently come back to the forefront of my repertoire of consumption is Potatoes Murphy.

Anyone who grew up in North Jersey and has been out at a local Italian restaurant has seen something "Murphy" on the menu, be it chicken, veal, or pork chops. To clarify, old-school Italian-american fare, which runs rampant in my North Jersey homeland, rests on 5 pillars of preparation, each boasting its own unique combination of ingredients:

1) Picatta
2) Francese
3) Cacciatore
4) Savoy
5) Murphy.

The beauty of these five preparations is that they are just that...preparations. They are methods rather than recipes, governed only by the what, and never by how much or how little.

So what the hell is something "Murphy".

Traditionally, the "Murphy" presentation involves a pan-coddled thoroughly sauteed melange of vinegar, cherry peppers, onions, potatoes, and some sort of salt-cured meat, usually sausage, used as a "dressing" over anything from Chicken (on or off the bone), to Veal, to Double-Cut pork chops. What's more, the proportion of ingredients is entirely arbitrary in so much as the vinegar, and vinegar peppers remain the centerpiece of the dish.

Every Murphy is different, and yet they're all, at a very basic level, the same.

Philosophy aside, the wicked combination of tart and heat you get from the vinegar soaked peppers is classic Murphy, and is so palatable, in my opinion, that the "Murphy" mix on its own, as its own entity, sans any major protein, morphs into an entirely new creation, known forever within my family as Potatoes Murphy.

In recent years, with my favorite restaurant closing (RIP Mama Lucia's), and having moved away from the East coast for a while, I had all but fully given up on "Murphy" before my father, Papa Ubereater, so valiantly resurrected this epic epicurean elder of a dish from the ashes of obscurity.

And so was born my father's Potatoes Murphy, a respectful nod to its roots, with an updated approach to content (bacon! in lieu of salsiccia!).

Here is Papa Ubereater (along with the rest of the Ubereater family), on the morn of Christmas Day (we like to eat early) in an unscripted, uncoached, and overtly unabated segment discussing his Potatoes Murphy as only he can:


Needless to say, the Ubereater approves.

Looking to recreate the old days? Email for a rough recipe.

1 comment:

C. L. DeMedeiros said...