Patate e Peperoni, Sardella, N’duja, Fressurata, Pasta al Forno, Parmigiana, Vrasciole. These are the foods we think of when someone says the word Calabria. But let’s be clear, Patate e Peperoni is at the top of that list.
Patate e Peperoni translates to potatoes and peppers. However, you might see this same dish called: Pipi e Patate Frijute, Patate e Pipi Frijute, Pipi e Patate, Patate e Pipi. They all mean the same thing, potatoes and peppers fried together until perfectly golden, slightly crispy, and joyful nostalgia fills every corner of your home.
This dish is magical because it somehow transports you back to a special place in time, even if you’ve never made it before. It takes me, Skyler, back to my grandmother’s bright yellow kitchen in San Francisco, the smell of sweet bell peppers coming from the oven. For Giuseppe, it’s the scent of a childhood spent in Le Castella and magically reminds him of a grandfather he never had the chance to meet.
The Potatoes First or the Peppers
The biggest debate in Patate e Peperoni is what to fry first, the potatoes or the peppers? If you ask a Calabrian, “how do you make Pipi e Patate?” they’ll most likely tell you to just fry some potatoes and peppers. However, once you actually watch them make this dish, you’ll notice small differences from household to household.
For example, Giuseppe’s aunt always adds the potatoes and peppers to the pan at the same time. Meanwhile, Lina always likes to start with the peppers. Others might start with the potatoes. And some people like to fry the potatoes and peppers separately and then add them together at the end (we don’t have time for that).
Then comes the salt debate. Some say to only salt the potatoes and peppers once they’re in a bowl. Others insist on salting while everything is still frying in the pan. Like most things in Italy, small things become very complex. We like to start with the peppers because they need longer to cook in order to become slightly sweet and it’s what Lina would do. [Side note: can we make What Would Lina Do (WWLD) a thing?]. The goal with the potatoes is to cook them through and then allow them to lightly brown and become golden. They’re not going to crisp into the perfect french fry, however, the edges can have a little crispness to them.
What Type of Peppers Should I Use?
We have used regular ol’ green peppers and all different colors of bell peppers. Our favorite way to make this dish is with mostly green bell peppers with some orange or red bell pepper. The green bell peppers are bitter and red bell pepper adds the perfect sweetness. Experiment and see what you like best!
Stainless Steel vs Cast Iron vs Nonstick
We cook almost exclusively in stainless steel or cast iron, however, for this dish a large nonstick pan is highly recommended. If you’re an expert frier you can absolutely use a cast iron. If you choose to use stainless steel it’s very likely the potatoes will stick to the bottom of the pan in a goopy mess (been there, done that), it’s not fun to clean up. We’ve tried several times and even using larger amounts of oil, it never works out. Cast iron might work if the pan is seasoned exceptionally well maybe use a bit more oil? We aren’t making any promises. To be safe, just use a nonstick.
Alright, here is our recipe for Patate e Peperoni!
Patate e Peperoni Recipe AKA Patate e Pipi (Potatoes and Bell Peppers)
- extra virgin olive oil (or preferred frying oil)
- 700 grams potatoes
- 2 bell peppers (or equivalent amount of other sweet peppers)
- 2 to 3 peperoncini (spicy peppers)
Cut the peperoncini in half or thirds.
- Cut the bell peppers into 1/2″ wide slivers lengthwise. Remove all seeds.
- Peel, wash, and cut the potatoes into approx. 1/2″ wide x 1/8″ thick slivers (like thinner steak fries).
- Fill a large nonstick or cast iron frying pan with a 1/4″ – 1/2″ layer of oil.
- Heat on medium for approx. 40s or until hot. Note: Be careful NOT to burn the olive oil. Test with peperoncini.
- Add the peperoncini, let gently fry for 30s.
- Add bell peppers. Flip when necessary with tongs. Cook until soft or starting to change color (approx. 7 mins)
- Add the potatoes. Let them fry and build a crust. Gently flip with tongs or a large slotted spoon to prevent breaking. Try not to flip too often.
- Cook until everything is soft and golden brown. Fry a little longer if you want more crispy bits.
- Add salt to taste.
- Remove potatoes and peppers from oil with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl.
- Serve after 15 minutes or let sit at room temperature to be eaten later in the day. If using as a topping on bread or in a sandwich don’t be afraid to drizzle with some fresh EVOO on top after serving! Store in the fridge for up to two days, reheat in oven.