As I noted in a previous post on brussels sprouts, Russ Parsons has dug up some interesting facts about the vegetables we eat every day. This time, about potatoes, he writes: "Tubers reproduce asexually. As every elementary school science student has learned, if you cut a potato into pieces and sow them in the ground, each piece will grow a plant exactly like the one you started with (they are true clones)." How creepy! Although potatoes do tend to have an alien look about them sometimes, with their amorphous figures and eyes that stare. Kind of reminds me of the cover of this old Stephen King book of short stories my parents had with the drawing of a hand with eyes all over it.
Besides these downsides, they are delicious cooked in every which way, and come in so many great colors and shapes. I bought a baby potato medley and thought I would try my own take on a simple recipe by Parsons. You don't have to use the fancy colored potatoes (although they certainly look beautiful), but make sure to use waxy potatoes for this recipe, not starchy potatoes. According to Wikipedia, "For culinary purposes, varieties are often described in terms of their waxiness. Floury, or mealy (baking) potatoes have more starch (20-22%) than waxy (boiling) potatoes (16-18%)." Russets are known as baking potatoes, and their plentiful starch cells absorb water when cooking and separate, leading to fluffy potatoes. Also that's why you see russets specified often in recipes for gnocchi, since you want that lightness of the dough. Waxy varieties (I assume all the potatoes in my medley were waxier than russets) have less starch and tend to hold their shape better during cooking.
Warm Confetti Potato Salad
1/2 lb confetti potatoes (I used a mix of baby Yukon Gold, Purple Peruvian, and Red La Soda potatoes)
1 Tbsp butter, room temperature
1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
1 tsp ground cumin
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
A two-step recipe, an amazing first for this blog, especially with the lengthy souffle recipes of late. Simple, yet delicious--the butter and starchy water from the steamed potatoes forms a sort of thickened base that reminded me of a sticky potato salad. Hence the name, but I definitely prefer this side warm rather than cold. I tried both, but I thought the warmth went better with the spice of the cumin and mustard, which I felt became rather muted straight out of the fridge. A very "cozy" tasting dish, highly recommended as a simple winter side.
- Cut potatoes (skin on) into small cubes, about 1-2 cm a side. Steam until easily poked with a fork, while still retaining their overall shape (about 15-20 minutes). Meanwhile in a bowl, combine butter, mustard, and cumin.
- When potatoes are done, add them to the bowl directly from the steamer basket and mix everything until potatoes are well-coated. Salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle rosemary on top and serve.
Next up: Something panko-breaded!