Quick apologies for being radio silent this past month. Travel, catering gigs, and a new project that I am working on (and will soon reveal) have kept me away from the blogosphere. Very much looking forward to sharing fall recipes and holiday cooking with everyone in the weeks to come!
On to the post...Usually when you eat something there are parts that are considered the best bites. For me its the cheesy crunch of the top of baked macaroni’n’cheese; the middle, barely-cooked-center of the brownie; the last few bites of apple pie when you get to edge of the flakey crust; or, the super marbley part of the steak where its melting in your mouth. When it comes to roasted potatoes it’s the pieces that are browned all over with fluffy centers that I can’t decide to eat first for immediate satisfaction or to reserve towards the end of the meal in efforts to savor and remember. To save myself the trouble of this conundrum why not just make a dish where every bite is the very best bite?
A fellow chef that I worked with for a few years taught me this potato cooking method. He worked savory and I worked pastry. We both worked in the mornings in the kitchen before the cavalry of chefs came in the early afternoon. We worked on opposite sides of the kitchen, but it was just us (maybe a few interns, but of course we sent them down to the basement!). The noisy hoods weren’t on yet and in between fiddling with recipes I learned a few tricks from this super talented chef.
These potatoes are cooked in a pan, but I just think of them as the best roasted potatoes ever. Small potatoes are key, which ensures that every bit of potato has that brown, crisp crust, and a fluffy, flavorful center. Because chicken stock is used with this cooking method the little spuds are packed with flavor. These potatoes insure the perfect marriage to any meat, poultry or fish dish.
The chef I learned this method from says he learned the trick from the famous Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
First, you need to get enough small baby new or fingerling potatoes (I find that the round baby potatoes work better) to fill the bottom of your pan. I cooked my potatoes in a cast iron skillet but any pan that has a 2 to 3 inch side would do. The potatoes should not have room to move, but each should get some real estate on the bottom of the pan. Add chicken (or veg) stock to the pan using enough liquid to cover the potatoes about ¾ of the way up. Add garlic cloves, a shallot or two (peeled and whole), and parsley sprigs for extra flavor. Add salt and pepper, keeping in mind the saltiness of your stock as this will be reduced and concentrated. Scatter a few pats of butter around the potatoes.
Cover and turn the burner onto medium low until the potatoes are just nearly done. Remove wilted parsley sprigs. Continue to cook to reduce the liquid to au sec or “almost dry”. Now it is time to add a bit more butter (drop a few knobs here and there) and then slightly squash the potatoes. They should stay intact. Once one side is gently crisp, flip and crisp up the other side. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs.