Two steps forward, three steps back

This weekend, I pulled out my heavy winter sweaters. I settled down on the couch with a hot mug of chai tea and hung out with Canadian Living as the snow and hail came down. I listened to David Gray and made a pot of soup. I thought about granola and forgot about the dishes. It's the kind of chill that digs deep into your bones and makes you lunge for a blanket, turn up the heat, sport layers. And it was the kind of weekend that begged for comfort food.

I've eaten potatoes all my life, but the best I've ever had while were I was in Florida. I know I wax on about the state entirely too often, but I can't be held accountable for how many wonderful qualities it possesses. It seems particularly geeky to admit that whenever I glance over and find a piece of fruit has come from Florida -- especially Plant City -- I smile a little and think about eating the season's first strawberries in the car in front of the produce stand. I think about the time I found a fully intact conch shell that had washed ashore one overcast day, wind whipping against my ears. And I think about the potatoes.

Now, maybe you've eaten fresh potatoes. So have I. But there is something supremely earthy tasting about Florida potatoes. They are delicious. They are wonderful boiled and tossed in melted butter and salt, or even eaten plain. They are excellent with salsa and avocado. I remember sitting down to a particularly good meal one night -- ribs smothered in sauce, green beans and potatoes -- and thinking, this is amazing. It was wonderful.

These potatoes are not those potatoes, but I like them just fine. Canada yields some pretty great potatoes, too. Here's the idea: you cut up about half a pound of red-skinned new potatoes, and you toss them in a little olive oil, just enough so they don't stick. You throw them into a cast iron pan with some coarse sea salt and a couple cloves of fresh, smashed garlic, and you roast the whole thing for about an hour, until the flesh gives in and grows tender. You might want to flip them halfway through cooking time. At this point, you can smash them and continue roasting, or you can remove them from the oven and toss them into this harmonious blend of olive oil, lemon juice, dill, and capers. It's the perfect thing for April, I think, some kind of cure.

It's simple and relatively hands-off, something that comes together easily. It would be nice with a bit of smoked fish and some mixed greens, or tossed into a green salad. How do you like to eat your potatoes?

Potatoes with Lemon and Capers, or "Rockstar Potatoes"

Serves 3-4

1lb red new potatoes, about 3-4 medium-sized
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
Sea salt
Olive oil

1.5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1-2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1/8 tsp dried dill
1 tbsp capers, well rinsed and finely chopped*
Sea salt

Pre-heat your oven to 400F. Rinse your potatoes well and dry completely. Half them. Toss in a little olive oil, about 1 tsp -- just enough to coat. Place with the flesh side facing down on a 10-inch cast iron (ideal) or other oven-safe skillet, salt generously, and add the smashed garlic, whole, to the pan. Roast for 1 hour, until the flesh becomes tender.

While the potatoes roast, make the vinaigrette. Combine the lemon juice with the herbs and capers, and salt to taste. This is important as the salt will not properly mingle once the olive oil has been added. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify. When the potatoes are ready, toss thoroughly with the vinaigrette and let stand for five minutes to allow the potatoes to absorb the dressing. Taste, and adjust seasoning. Serve hot or eat as a cold potato salad.

*The photographs feature the capers whole, but I would chop them finely next time to ensure all of the flavours are thoroughly combined.


Samantha said...

Mmmm capers. Good choice.
I roast potatoes far too infrequently.

Andrea Paterson said...

Yummy! I love roasted potatoes. I like to put chopped leeks in with mine and a dash of balsamic vinegar.

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