Saturday, June 09, 2012

Potatoes in olive oil

This is from a recipe I found in the Week, for squid and potatoes. The magazine took it from Canal House Cooking by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton.

The recipe gives 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into approx 5cm slices; 1 onion, sliced; 125ml olive oil; and 125ml of water.

The first thing you notice is the 5cm instruction: 5cm is not a slice, it’s a chunk. The second is that 125ml is an awful lot of oil. The third is that the recipe tells you to put all the ingredients in a heavy frying pan over a medium heat, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. A medium setting on your hob will almost certainly get these ingredients bubbling too fiercely; and 30 minutes is almost certainly longer than they will take to cook.

In spite of my doubts, I gave the recipe a try, but with less oil and more potatoes, cut into 1cm slices; I also added salt, which the recipe does not mention. You’ll need a waxy variety of potato: piled up in the pan, sitting above the liquid and with unequal access to the steam, they cook unevenly, and maincrop varieties will collapse under the treatment - especially if you need to lift the lid at the end and turn up the heat to evaporate the remaining liquid. I thought that even my Jerseys were more beaten up than ideal. But, having absorbed a good deal of oil, they were flavoursome.

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