We visit Long Beach, WA at least once a year and often stay at the Adrift Hotel. Located just steps from the beach and in the middle of a trail and boardwalk that runs for miles, we are content to spend most of our time wandering up and down the coast, on foot or the bicycles you can borrow from the hotel. After a long day in the fresh salt air, we head back to our room and order room service from the house restaurant, Pickled Fish. They have decent pizza, excellent fried oysters, my favorite pickled vegetables and a number of other tasty offerings. But nothing beats their fries. Nothing. We like them Dirty Dirty.
Dirty Dirty house fries at Pickled Fish are handcut fries, great on their own but taken to another plane when topped with fried pork belly, garlic, pepperoncini and a mild shredded goat cheese. They come with truffled ketchup and a handful of napkins and they are one of my favorite things to eat in the entire state of Washington. No, we don’t go to Long Beach just to eat fries, but it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to make that argument. And this is from a girl who doesn’t really like fries! No kidding, other than the ones at Pickled Fish, I might eat fries once or twice a year. That’s why, when I created my homage to Dirty Dirty fries, I chose to go with roasted potatoes. Personal preference aside, they are easier to make at home than fries, and perhaps a little healthier. Which means you can eat them more often, and that’s good news for me.
I experimented with a few versions at home before settling on this combination of toppings for my Adrift-style roasted potatoes. I am lucky that my Mom makes excellent pickled peppers with the banana peppers she grows in her garden, so those are my pepper of choice. We also tried and liked pepperoncini, which are available in just about every grocery store these days, and even the sweeter Mama Lil/cherry peppers that are often found in the olive bar at the grocery store. Whatever you like, heat- and flavor-wise, go with those. For the cheese, we couldn’t find a passable facsimile of the goat cheese they use, but did have some good luck with crumbled feta, especially the less-salty French fetas. However, our favorite choice for these potatoes is cheese curds, particularly the herbed version of Beecher’s curds or the extra-garlicky ones called “Vampire Slayer” from Face Rock Creamery. They become soft and melty without disintegrating, and the herbs add another dimension of flavor. As for the pork belly, I could never get it quite right; I suspect it’s because they fry it at Pickled Fish and I’ve only tried pan roasting. The closest substitute was a beautiful piece of slab bacon I found at the Mount Vernon Co-op, which I cooked and cut into pieces. For the most part, we leave these potatoes bacon-free, and they’re so good you don’t miss anything.
My Adrift-Style roasted potatoes are a treat I add into the meal plan every few months, usually to snack on while watching a movie on Saturday night. They are a little crispy, with creaminess from the cheese, a garlic punch softened by the roasting process and a bright, fresh bite from the peppers. They remind me of one of my favorite places to visit and our fun days spent on the beach. If you ever get the chance to visit Long Beach, I hope you will, and make a point of stopping at Pickled Fish. You won’t be disappointed. In the meantime, you can get a preview of the experience in your own kitchen.
Adrift-Style Roasted Potatoes
- 1 lb. unpeeled red potatoes, cut into 2″ cubes
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- kosher salt & black pepper
- 4 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
- 1/2 c. pickled banana peppers, or pepperoncini
- 4 – 6 oz. cheese curds (I liked the herbed ones from Beecher’s)
- 4 oz. cooked, cubed slab bacon (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, toss the cubed potatoes with olive oil, paprika and a sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper. Add in the garlic cloves, which should be smashed but still mostly whole; this way, when they cook, they flavor the potatoes but still become soft, and are less likely to burn than minced garlic. Spread the potatoes and garlic in an even layer on a pan large enough to hold them without crowding; I use a cookie sheet covered in foil. Scrape out any seasoned oil left in the bowl and drizzle over the potatoes on the pan.
Roast for 45 mins.; after 20 mins. use a spatula to turn the potatoes so they color evenly. The finished potatoes should be crisp on the outside, fluffy in the middle and golden brown. Add the cheese curds, pickled peppers and bacon, if using, to the potatoes and toss gently to combine. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Turn everything out onto a plate or platter and serve hot, with ketchup or another favorite fry-dipping sauce.
Our most recent room at Adrift– you should go!