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Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes
Potato Cake
Potatoes Baked in Sea Salt
Potatoes Roasted in Salt

Potatoes Available Direct from the Grower
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from One Potato, Two Potato

Potatoes Roasted in Salt

No proportions here, just a method. The potatoes come out of the salt all wrinkly and with an amazingly tender texture. Once the salt has cooled down, you can pack it into a jar and reuse it for roasting several times. Just add more salt when you need it. 

There is no more elegant way of serving these potatoes than slicing them in half and topping with a dollop of sour cream and as much caviar as you dare. If this isn't going to be a Beluga evening, go for salmon roe. Or try any of the dips and sauces [in this book]. You can even, should you care to, use any of the butters in the chapter of boiled potatoes. 

Coarse salt 
Small red-skinned or heirloom potatoes, scrubbed 

Heat the oven to 400° F. 

Spread a layer of salt in a deep baking dish or casserole large enough to hold the potatoes in a single layer. Put them in the dish and cover completely with more salt. 

Roast the potatoes for 50 to 60 minutes, or until tender. Poke them with a skewer or the tip of a small knife to check. Dump the potatoes out onto a tray and knock off the salt. 

Slice the potatoes in half and move them to a serving dish (placing them on a bed of salt is pretty). Top them in the kitchen if you want, or pass with a dipping sauce. 

Variation:Paula Wolfert's Potatoes Baked in Sea Salt 
An enameled cast-iron cocotte (Dutch oven) with a tight-fitting lid is essential for this dish. Paula's salt of choice is sea salt from the Ile de ré in France, but a combination of any coarse sea salt and kosher salt will be fine. 

Wash and dry 1 1/2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes. Spread 1 1/2 cups sea salt in the bottom of the cocotte and sit the potatoes on top in a single layer. Take off the cover and let the potatoes sit for 5 minutes. Brush off the salt and serve. This is enough for 6 to 8 for cocktails. 

Chez Louis Potato Cake 
Serves 6 to 8 

Since the 1930s, hungry Parisians and visitors have paid homage to the famous potato cake at the legendary L'Ami Louis bistro. But there's a debate about it: Are the potatoes pre-cooked or not? Now, literary agent Susan Lescher is an ardent admirer of both the restaurant and the dish, and she led me to this version by David Liederman. This, she assures me, has the goods. Whether she's right or not isn't the point. For me, this is an amazingly beautiful and completely delicious dish. It's a perfect rustic cake meant to be served with roast chicken. 

The quantities will sound impressive for the number of servings, but try it. You probably won't be able to stop eating it either. 

Read this through once or twice before you start, and be prepared to dirty a lot of pots. It's worth it. And one more thing: a 12-inch cast-iron skillet is key. It won't work in a smaller or lighter pan. But that's not saying you can't halve the quantities and bake the cake in a 9-inch cast-iron pan. 

5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled 
Coarse salt 
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter 
Freshly ground black pepper 
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic 
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley 

Place the potatoes in a large pot with water to cover them by at least an inch. Add a good pinch of salt, bring to a boil, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. The potatoes should be slightly underdone, so you'll feel resistance when you test them with a skewer or larding needle. (They will finish cooking when you brown and bake them.) 

While the potatoes are cooking, put a 12-inch-cast-iron skillet into the oven and turn on the heat to 450° F. 

Drain the potatoes and place them in a second large skillet over medium-high heat. Season liberally with salt and pepper, cut in 2 sticks of the butter, and start chopping the potatoes into uneven hunks (about 2 inches) with the side of a large metal spoon. Keep turning the pieces over in the butter so they brown evenly. This should take about 1 minute. 

Meanwhile, melt the remaining stick of butter in a small saucepan. When the potatoes have browned, take the iron skillet out of the oven, pour in the butter, and immediately add the potatoes. (The skillet needs to be smoking hot -- and if you tried to melt the butter in it, it would burn.) Press down with the back of your metal spoon or a spatula to flatten the cake in the skillet. Cook it over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, then pop it in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. 

Take the skillet from the oven and carefully pour off any butter (you can save this butter and recycle it if you want). Cover the skillet with a heavy flat baking sheet and invert it so the pie falls out onto the sheet. Put the pie back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove it from the oven and pour off any of the butter in the pan. Carefully slide the pie onto a flat serving dish. 

The garnish is a circle of chopped garlic around the center of the pie, surrounded by a larger circle of parsley. But you might just want to combine the garlic and parsley and scatter it evenly over the top. Serve this hot, cut into wedges. 

Martha Stewart's Mashed Potatoes 
Serves 6 to 8 

This is vintage Martha. Rich, luxurious, and creamy mashed potatoes. They are indeed, as Martha says, "infinitely edible." 

The potatoes here are yellow-fleshed [Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn], and their color adds to the impression that these are the richest potatoes you've ever eaten. Russets are thirstier; you'll need to add more cream if you use them for this dish. 

Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator well in advance; it needs to be squishy soft. If not, it thickens the potatoes too much and they're hell to beat. 

2-1/2 pounds yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks 
Coarse salt 
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 
1/4 cup heavy cream, warmed 
Freshly ground black pepper 

Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water by at least an inch, add a good pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Cover partway, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes, return them to the pot, and put them back over the heat to dry them. Shake the pan and stir until the potatoes are floury and have made and have made a film on the bottom of the pan. 

Put the potatoes through a ricer and return them to the pan, over very low heat, or mash them until perfectly smooth with a hand masher. Beat in the butter, about one-third at a time, with a wooden spoon. Cut the cream cheese into bits and beat that in thirds. Pour in the cream, stir until it's absorbed, and then beat the potatoes vigorously with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve right away, so they're good and hot. 

Copyright © 2001 by Roy Finamore.


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