The humble potato is a staple of the Maine economy and the star of this satisfying one-dish meal.
In Maine’s Aroostook County, often affectionately called “the county,” mineral-rich soil and a cool climate combine to create ideal potato-growing conditions.“The county” is huge, occupying more land than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. In the mid-nineteenth century, when rail lines extended north into Aroostook, Maine became the nation’s biggest potato grower, though much of the crop went into laundry starch, rather than to the table.
Though Maine now ranks behind several other states in total production, it continues to count potatoes as its number one agricultural crop, with most still grown in Aroostook. These days, the production is mostly in “round whites,” a medium-sized, moderately starchy, all-purpose potato, the kind often sold in five-pound bags in the supermarket.
Fort Fairfield, Maine, holds a week-long Potato Blossom Festival each summer to celebrate the Maine spud. The festival is capped by the crowning of Miss Potato Queen and the awarding of ribbons in a potato recipe contest. This savory skillet supper dish is my adaptation of a recent prize-winner. It’s perfect for supper on a cold winter evening.
Aroostook County Potato and Sausage Skillet Dinner
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces kielbasa or similar garlicky smoked sausage, cut in ¼-inch slices
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 pounds all-purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced (5 to 6 cups)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups chicken broth, preferably reduced-sodium
- 1 cup apple juice or apple cider
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 bay leaf, broken in half
- In a very large (11- or 12-inch), preferably nonstick, skillet with sides at least 2 inches high, heat the oil. Add the sausage and onion and sauté over medium heat, stirring, until the onion softens and the sausage begins to brown, about 6 minutes.
- Add the sliced potatoes to the skillet, sprinkle with the flour, thyme, and pepper, and toss gently but thoroughly to combine well. Pour the broth, apple juice, and wine over the potato mixture and add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaf before serving directly from the skillet.