Salt “Crust” Potatoes

Like many things we try we first saw this dish prepared on a cooking show. Best I can recall it was America’s Test Kitchen however their website tells me it was Cook’s Country. They attribute the dish to Syracuse, NY. The idea is you cook small, whole, potatoes in briny water and the result is a perfectly seasoned potato. Despite the name, and the amount of salt used in preparing this dish, these potatoes taste no more salty than my regular boiled potatoes. In part that comes from the “whole potato” nature of the recipe.

I call for “baby” red potatoes here. My local megamart sells 1 1/2 pound bags of these as gourmet potatoes. I just know that they are all similarly sized and that’s a key to this recipe being a success.

Salt “Crust” Potatoes
Servings: 12-15
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 12 cups water
  • 2 1/4 cups kosher salt (see note)
  • 4 1/2 lbs. “baby” red potatoes
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. Combine the water and salt in a Dutch oven and stir until the bulk of the salt is combined. Place over high heat until boiling. While the water comes to a boil give the potatoes a rinse and set them aside.
  2. Add the potatoes to the boiling water. Cook them until they are easily pierced with a fork, which for me is 20-25 minutes.
  3. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow them to rest. Return the unrinsed pot to the cook top and add the butter. Once the butter melts turn off the heat and add the pepper and parsley. Swirl to combine then return the potatoes to the pot.
  4. Toss the potatoes in the pot until the flavored butter has a chance to coat all the spuds. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Notes:
I use Morton’s Kosher Salt (you know, the one with the girl holding the umbrella on the box). I vaguely remember that the original recipe suggested that different brands of kosher salt yield a different amount of salt by volume. 2 1/4 cups of Morton’s kosher salt weighs in at 130 grams, give or take a gram. If you are using a different salt then try 130 grams of it the first go around.

This recipe is based on a couple of sources including an article in The New York Times and the brief access I had to it on Cook’s Country when the episode first aired.

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Potato, Herb and Cheese Stacks

A while back I was lured in by a glossy picture of Parmesan and Herb Potato Stacks in an retailers Instagram post. The recipe seemed straight-forward, the image looked inticing and I’m always seeking a new way to present potatoes at Saturday night dinner.

While the result was good I thought of several ways to improve the recipe. Here’s the result with my update ingredient list and rewritten in my own words. Enjoy.

Potato, Herb and Cheese Stacks
Servings: 8-12
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 45-50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 5 Yukon Gold potatoes, very thinly sliced (about 1/16 inch)
  • 6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 fresh sage leaves for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat an oven to 375°F. Coat a 12 cup muffin tin with vegetable oil spray.
  2. Place the sliced potatoes win a colander set over a bowl and set aside while you melt the butter. Transfer the butter to a large bowl and allow the butter to cool for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Add the Romano cheese, garlic, thyme and cream to the cooled butter and whisk together until combined.. Season with salt and pepper. Add the potato slices and gently toss to coat evenly.
  4. Divide the potato slices among the prepared muffin cups, stacking them in layers.
  5. If using them, arrange a sage leaf on top of each stack.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the potato stacks. Bake for another 10 minutes. The potatoes should be tender with crispy edges and the Parmesan should be fully melted. If not cook for another minute or two.
  7. Let cool slightly, then carefully remove the stacks from the pan and serve warm.

Notes:
Don’t be tempted by the cheese in a plastic jar which is found in the pasta aisle of your local megamart. You should find a wedge of Romano, and another of Parmesan, in the “fancy” cheese case near the deli counter. Yes, you’ll pay more than you will for that plastic jar however the flavor will far exceed the price difference.

Milk-Can Supper

I heard about Milk Can Supper on the America’s Test Kitchen Radio podcast in June 2014. It is a one pot meal, which I dig for efficiency sake, and it sounded intriguing. Basically you layer red potatoes, cabbage, corn on the cob, carrots, onion and bratwurst in a large pot and use a pale colored beer as the steaming liquid. I gave it a go and the results were delicious. I’ve made it, or parts of it, several times since with a couple of variations.

I use our 20-quart stock pot when I make this for a crowd. If I’ve halving it then I leave out the cabbage and cook it in the dutch oven we use for stews and tomato sauce.

Give this a try sometime. You won’t be sorry.

Milk-Can Supper
Servings: 10-12
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 lbs. fresh bratwurst (15 sausages)
  • 3 lbs. small red potatoes, unpeeled, rinsed
  • 1 head Napa cabbage, cut into quarters
  • 6 ears corn, cleaned and cut in half
  • 6 carrots, peeled and cut into ~2″ pieces
  • 2 onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 12 oz. bottle light ale
  • 2 green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1″ squares

Directions:

  1. Cut brats in half. Heat the oil in the stock pot over medium heat. Working in batches, brown brats, about 2 minutes on each side. Set browned brats aside. Drain the oil from the pot.
  2. Dump the potatoes into the pot. Cover these with the quartered cabbage followed by the corn, carrots and onions. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Tuck the bay leaves and thyme springs in among the vegetables.
  3. Arrange the brats on top of the vegetables. Pour the beer over everything, pop on the cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; you want to see a bit of steam come out when you take off the lid. Cook for 15 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. You can temp the sausages if you are worries they aren’t cooked through (160°F being the magic number). I try to stab a potato and a carrot to make sure they aren’t still hard.
  5. If you have a big enough bowl or platter you can carefully dump everything into it. For a large group I prefer to separate out the sausages, corn and cabbages (which I cut into smaller pieces after cooking) into separate bowls. The potatoes, carrots, onions and peppers end up together in another bowl. This allows the food to be passed around the table more quickly. I try to put at least some of the cooking liquid into a measuring cup to pass as well.

Notes:
The original recipe calls for a “light-bodied American lager, such as Budweiser”. I’m a bit of a beer snob and don’t have Bud in the house nor will I buy it just for the recipe. I’ve used Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale in the past and most recently I used Sam Adams Porch Rocker. Both worked well. Use what you enjoy.

As I suggested in the intro, this recipe can pretty easily be halved if you aren’t serving a mob. I leave out the cabbage, reduce the rest of the ingredients by half except the amount of beer. How many sausages you cook is really up to you. I’d go for at least 10 (that’s 2 packs were I shop). I honestly should just increase the number of sausages to 20 for the full recipe; they are the best part.

Home Fries for Dinner

These are a fairly quick to cook version of home fries that I have made for dinner. The main difference from breakfast home fries is these don’t sit in the skillet nearly long enough to develop super crisp sides and edges.

We enjoyed these last week with some pan-seared/oven-finished chicken thighs.

Home Fries Dinner Style
Servings: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and 1/2″ dice
  • 1 onion, 1/4″ dice
  • 1 long pepper (such as a pasilla or Anaheim), 1/4″ dice
  • 2 Tbsp. oil (I used some rendered chicken fat from just cooked thighs)
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. red chile flakes
  • kosher salt & cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Steam potatoes for 10 minutes or until a knife can pierce a potato piece with a bit of pressure.
  2. While the potatoes steam heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers and a big pinch of kosher salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Push the onions and potatoes to the outer edge of the skillet. Transfer the steams potatoes to the center of the skillet in a single layer; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, without disturbing, for 5 minutes.
  4. Toss the contents of the skillet to incorporate the onions, peppers and potatoes. Cook for another 3 minutes, again without disturbing. Toss one more time and cook until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
  5. Sprinkle potatoes with paprika and chile flake. Stir to incorporate. Taste for seasoning; adjust if desired. Serve and enjoy.

Notes:
Any oil will work here as long as it can, pardon the pun, handle the heat. Butter wouldn’t be my first choice as it can burn during after a while. Olive oil (no need for extra virgin) would work fine, as would any vegetable oil.

Potato Rösti

Joy of Cooking tells me that Potato Rösti is a classic Swedish dish. See, it even has a non-Latin alphabet character in the name. It is delicious whether you spell it with a ö or an “o”.

Potato Rosti

This recipe was inspired, and partially based on an Alton Brown podcast. Quantities mostly came from the Joy of Cooking. Neither quite fit the bill though so I added a bit of this and that to make it my own.

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Potato and Corn Patties

I grew up in a family that always ate leftovers. At least one meal a week was based on the leftovers from Sunday dinner. Roast beef became beef stew. Grilled chicken became chicken salad sandwiches. When I visit my mom I often end up with a meal of odds and ends from the week. A little of this, a little of that, makes a tasty meal.

In cooking our big weekly dinners there are often leftovers. Frequently they become lunch and save me from the corporate cafeteria. Sometimes though I decide to work them into a weeknight meal. This past weekend we had mashed potatoes and a variation on sauteed corn with leeks. A few ingredients, a hot skillet and tasty side was born to go along with chicken breast.

Potato and Corn Patties
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