When asking somebody what their favorite food is, they must take into account a large number of variables. For me, these include the likes of taste, texture, temperature, etc. Throughout my entire life I have experienced a vast array of different foods all cultivating a complex and diverse pallet. It’s difficult to single out a specific food, but for me personally I’d give the upper hand to; steak and potatoes. More specifically Montréal steak tips and my family’s “hot shit” style potatoes (more on the name later on).
This dish has two parts that compliment it perfectly with a crisp, buttery, and savory slice of steak with the spicy potato dish. The potato dish has evolved throughout my life as my families tastes, and preferences changed. This has been from the type of potatoes used to the way it was cooked, however, the two things that have never changed about this dish is the use of it as a comfort food and the amount of cheese on it. Because what doesn’t taste better with lots of melted cheese?
To cook the potatoes, you first need to start by determining what meal this is for. If it’s for breakfast you might as well use the frozen store-bought potatoes in the freezer, the one-pound bag that no one ever remembers buying but it mixed in with all the other forgotten food in the back of the freezer. This is simply because the prep time for fresh potatoes can be better spent drinking a cup of coffee in the morning. Any other meals of the day, this is used for is most often made with normal potatoes that you have to wash off in the sink, it takes a little more effort but still only takes a minute or two. Next you need to dice up the potatoes into cube shaped bits, roughly half an inch cubed, and throw them into the microwave for three minutes, covered. This is to precook them, so the inside is fully cooked when their done and give the multi layered texture they have. When those are in the microwave you can then take out one to two jalapeños and a large onion and cut those up.
After the initial preparation phase is done, you can then move onto the cooking its self. To start you get a frying pan, size dependent on the amount of potatoes your cooking (large enough so never potato is touching the bottom of the pan) and melt one fourth of a stick of butter. You must melt the butter first and get it hot because as my Dad taught me, “when you put the potatoes in hot oil it won’t suck up much of it so they will be a little healthier.” After the oil is hot you then can start to cook the jalapeno and onion as they will need more time to cook then the potatoes. You first add in the jalapenos, this is very important because as my Dad would always tell me when I wanted to pore everything into the hot bubbling oil, “if you want to be able to taste the jalapenos you have to cook it first in some sort of oil or fat as hot foods are lipid soluble”, also, “so the heat leaches out into the oil.” This of course makes the potatoes much spicier, so much so that when you walked into the kitchen it can be hard to breathe because of all the jalapeno in the air. When the jalapenos had about three minutes to cook you throw in the onion for five minutes then the rest.
Once you throw everything in to the pan you add some seasoning salt, cover it up and let it cook. Every five minutes or so you would stir/flip the potatoes to make sure they don’t burn to the bottom of the pan. When the dish is almost done (the potatoes are soft and golden brown on the outside) you can add on the cheese, we use sharp cheddar, and cover it back up till all the cheese is melted. If this was for breakfast at my house my mom, dad, or whoever was making it might throw in a couple eggs close to the end to fry with it. If not, this dish would now be ready to serve.
In my family this is a dish, my father more specifically, is known for to bring to any sort of potluck event. Almost everyone likes it and unfortunately, there is almost never any left to bring back home. One of the more commonly known places for this dish is at our church, and ironically where it got its name, hot shit potatoes.
Our church has men’s breakfast every third Sunday of each month that’s potluck. At this “potluck” my father would normally make blueberry pancakes, but one day he forgot to bring the batter, so we ended up binging the potatoes. Everyone liked them so it then became a regular thing. One of those breakfasts an older man, who went regularly and was slightly handy capped enough not to have a filter when he spoke, asked if they were normal spicy or the hot shit potatoes. It was particularly funny that day as we used two older jalapenos to make it, so the heat was enough to make you sweat. Ever since then we referred to them as the hot shit potatoes.
But what about the steak? Potatoes are great, but they need a good compliment. That’s where Montréal steak tips come in perfectly. The Montréal part of the steak is just a seasoning (https://www.chowhound.com/recipes/montreal-steak-seasoning-10590) that is put on the steak tips grilled. This is not a fancy dish or hard to prepare, it is just the one that in my opinion, tastes the best. It gives the steak a salty, spicy flavor with garlic, paprika, and red pepper flavor mixed in all together. When this steak is grilled the juices stay inside perfectly rolling out as you cut it open with the potatoes there to soak up all the juice that is not retained by the steak.
In my household this is served on special occasions such as birthdays, when we come home from long trips away from home for a while, or sometimes just as a comfort food when we want to eat something nice. Every bit of this meal for me brings back memories of family suppers and get togethers with family we no longer see or have passed. Hidden in the delicious taste of it all are some of the closest to heart, nostalgic feelings and memories of my childhood I have, but most important the feeling of love and family. This meal to me will never just be a supper I eat, but a connection to my past and in a way happiness its self.
1/4th– stick of butter
5- tablespoons of seasoning salt
3- cups of shredded sharp cheddar
1- large onion
1/4 – cup of Montréal steak seasoning
8 – ounce steak tips
“Montreal Peppered Steak.” McCormick. 2019. 21 Feb. 2019 <https://www.mccormick.com/grill-mates/recipes/main-dishes/montreal-peppered-steak>.