Thursday, June 30, 2011

I just saw some "just dug" potatoes. Aside from the usual roasting, mashing, gratin, et al. . what can I do with them?

Sometimes it feels like we just got finished with winter, so for many cooks it might be a little too soon to make a return to the root vegetable.  However, right now is the time to be experiencing the greatness that is the new potato. It hasn't quite yet developed the starch that it will in it's old age, so it has a distinct intense "potato flavor" but with a chewier waxy mouth feel.
In passing, a chef-buddy mentioned frying crushed potatoes in his last restaurant.  It didn't really stick at the moment he said it, but after this potato question I thought of it again.
This is my interpretation of what he spoke of, they turned out pretty well.
In general I do very little frying (not enough anyway) but potatoes are an ingredient that react very well to the cooking method.

Fried New Potatoes

New Potatoes (the amt. is irrelevant to the recipe, I'd use abut 8oz. per person)
Herbs, picked, cleaned, and dried well - any herb or combo of herbs works, I used rosemary and it was great.
4-6 cups of vegetable oil (corn, peanut, canola, vegetable, etc)

1. Rinse your potatoes and place them in a pot.  Cover them with cold water and add A LOT of salt.  I'd add three tablespoons+ per quart of water used.  It's to offset the mass of the potatoes, which benefits from being well seasoned.
2. Place this pot over high heat and bring it to a boil. Cook until an inserted pairing knife comes out easily.  This will take around 7-9 minutes but maybe longer.  Be sure to test the bigger potatoes, because they're the last to finish cooking.
3. Strain these and allow to cool slightly.  Once cool enough to handle, give them a half crush.  The idea here is to simply expose some potato flesh and create more surface area for browning in the fry oil.  You don't want to obliterate the thing, ideally it holds together or at worst splits in half.
4. In a separate heavy pot (ideally cast iron or a dutch oven), bring 4-6 cups of oil up to 375˚F.  Working in batches, and without over-crowding the pot, fry the crushed potatoes until they're nice and golden.  Using a spider if you have one or slotted spoon, remove to a rack and salt immediately.
5. Once all of the potatoes are fried, place them in a serving bowl. Drop the herbs into the oil, once they cease to bubble, fish them out and place them right on the potatoes.  mmmmmmm . . . .

I served these with homemade buttermilk dressing, the recipe is coming soon.
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