There are few comfort foods that are as deeply satisfying as the simple potato. It is another one of the world changing foods that came to us from the New World: Peru, to be exact. Can you imagine a world without French fries, scalloped potatoes, hash browns, mashed potatoes, bangers and mash (if you are a Brit), potato pancakes, or a baked and stuffed potato? It’s not an idea that is pleasant to contemplate, is it?
But, as simple as the potato is, it has to be treated with care to turn out as delicious as it has the potential to be. Sounds crazy? Well, maybe you haven’t had the best yet. Here are two recipes that I think you will like. Yes, they do take longer to make than more popular or common recipes, but, as is always the case, you get what you pay for.
I am a huge fan of French fries, but they have to be done properly, and it is time consuming, to be sure. Anthony Bourdain’s recipe, while not original, is one of the best I know. Peel and slice potatoes into sticks, and then place in ice water for at least 30 minutes. Heat a large pot, only half full of oil, to 280 degrees F, dry the potatoes, then fry for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels for 15 minutes. Increase the oil temp to 375 degrees F. In small batches, fry again for 2 to 3 minutes, or until just crispy. Drain, add salt, and serve immediately. Try serving with a good home made mayo, jacked up with a little vinegar.
I am also a huge fan of mashed potatoes. Just plain mashed potatoes are good when made with a little cream and finished with heaping teaspoons of butter, but I like best of all the Irish recipe called colecannon. Have you ever heard of a recipe that is so good there is a song written about it?
So, colecannon is traditionally made by mixing mashed potatoes and kale, and, of course, topped with good butter. But I take it one step further, and in my opinion, just that much better. My improvement is to use collard greens simmered in ham stock instead of kale. It makes it a Southern/Irish fusion.
Simmer Yukon Gold potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain, cool and peel. While still warm, add cream and butter (in the proportions you like and doctor allows), mix well but do not over mix. It makes the texture rather plastic. Season with salt and pepper. Wash and stem collard greens, remember to rinse well, a little sand will go a long way toward ruining this recipe! Dice 3 or 4 bone in smoked pork chops, sauté (along with the bones) in oil till browned, season with red pepper flakes and then add 4 to 6 cups water. Simmer until you have a delicious broth (remember to taste and season as you go). Add the collards a hand full at a time, simmer lid on until tender, Remove the collards from the stock, and add to to the mashed potatoes, combine, and serve with a large lump of butter on top.
Its a great meal for a chilly winter’s day!