​Recipe: Sparklin' Taters


Sparklin' Taters by Kent Rollins.

Shannon Keller Rollins

There are only a few cowboy cooks left in the U.S., and Kent Rollins is one of them. Along with his wife (photographer Shannon Keller Rollins), he offers sizzling steaks and down-home philosophy to the cowboys who herd cattle and show up mighty hungry at the Rollins' 1876 Studebaker chuck wagon.

The following recipe is from Rollins' recently published cookbook, "A Taste of Cowboy: Ranch Recipes and Tales from the Trail" by Kent Rollins and Shannon Rollins (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

"So what makes 'em sparkle?" That's the question I'm always asked. I tell folks it's because they put a sparkle in the eye of anyone who eats them. But you'll see by the ingredients that's not the only reason.

I was on the 5R Ranch in the Texas Panhandle, about to prepare the last meal before we had to break camp and go home when this recipe accidentally came about. I wanted to fry up some taters, but I realized that I didn't have any oil left over. I prowled around to see what I had, and lo and behold, found some Sprite. The soda has a delicious caramelizing effect on the potatoes.

Sparklin' Taters
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes
Makes 6 to 8 servings


5 russet potatoes, sliced into ¼-inch thick pieces
7 pieces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 jalapeños, diced
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Seasoned salt and black pepper
3 to 4 cups lemon-lime soda (Sprite, 7Up)


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly butter an 11-x-13-inch casserole dish.

2. Place the potatoes in cold water and set aside.

3. Place the bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Add the jalapeños, onion, and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring, until the bacon is three quarters done (not crisp) and the vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

4. Drain the potatoes. Place a layer of potatoes in the casserole dish. Cover with half of the bacon mixture and sprinkle with the seasoned salt and pepper to taste. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Pour the soda over the entire dish until about three-quarters full.

5. Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and stir. Replace the foil and continue baking for about 20 more minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Serve hot.

Tip: Covering the dish will help the liquid from boiling out, but feel free to add more soda while cooking if the potatoes don't have enough moisture to soften.

More recipes from Kent Rollins:

Recipes and photography from "A Taste of Cowboy: Ranch Recipes and Tales from the Trail" by Kent Rollins. Copyright © 2015 by Kent Rollins and Shannon Rollins. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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