Author Notes: Many moons ago, long before I was born, my maternal grandparents owned a restaurant in Southwest Louisiana. Over its lifetime, my grandmother, Nanny, cooked thousands of cheesecakes – the favored dessert- and the lore and several recipes have passed through our family since. The restaurant’s salad chef, MoMo (I’ve never known his real name), created this dish hence its name. I also don’t know why the second M was turned into a lowercase letter…easier and quicker to write? In any case, I grew up eating MoMo’s potatoes, made by both Nanny and my mom, and they are comfort food to the max. As if mujaddara and mac&cheese took a visit to the deep south of Louisiana and married.
This is the humblest and simplest of recipes, just four basic ingredients -potatoes, onions, bacon and cheddar- plus salt, pepper and a small pour of oil. It’s terrific just out of the skillet or reheated the next day, or the next. —em-i-lis
cups thinly sliced yellow onions (peel, halve, cut crosswise in half-moon slivers)
teaspoons kosher salt, divided
russet potatoes, scrubbed (don’t peel)
cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (MoMo, Nanny and Mom used orange, but I like Cabot Extra Sharp White)
tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- In a large skillet with a lid (12″ works well), fry the bacon until it’s just crisp. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon of salt to the skillet with the drippings. Over medium or medium-low heat, fry the onions until they’re translucent and soft, tossing regularly to evenly distribute the salt and bacon fat. After 15 minutes or so, transfer them to a bowl. Don’t wipe out your skillet.
- Meanwhile, set a large pot of water to boil. When it’s boiling, add the remaining teaspoon of salt and cook the potatoes (still whole) for 4 minutes. Using tongs, remove the potatoes, let cool a bit and then slice them crosswise into 1/4″ rounds.
- Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium. Layer in the skillet potato rounds, onions, bacon and cheese. You should get two complete layers topped with a final few potatoes. Cover the skillet and smother the Momos. Once or twice during cooking, remove the lid and use a large spatula or flat wooden spoon to gently toss everything around. You want the potatoes to be cooked through but not mushy, the bacon should be soft, the cheese should be evenly melted and the onions will have blended in with everything.
- When done, taste and re-salt if needed. Grate pepper over the top and serve.