Potatoes are among the most popular vegetables in the world. In the States, they are definitely a favorite around the holiday time when mashed and combined with rich butter and cream. I prefer mine to be roasted; when they get that perfect crispy brown exterior and just biting in unveils a fluffy interior unlike any other vegetable. There are so many different ways to prepare potatoes. Sometimes they take the form of pancakes, dumplings, gnocchi, or croquette balls. But simple preparations often win over complicated renditions. The less you do with great produce, the better.
Potatoes are an important foodstuff in many cultures. They have been eaten for centuries and were first cultivated in South America, mainly Peru. There are thousands of varieties. I especially love fingerling potatoes for their creamy texture and purple potatoes for their bright color. New potatoes, which are immature potatoes harvested during summer, are some of the most prized spuds for cooking. Their skins are so thin that it's best to skip peeling them. Steaming, sauteing, and roasting are all great cooking methods.
Potatoes are not necessarily the focus of this recipe, but they are a major part. The fingerlings I use work as sponges to absorb the juices in this baked meal. Cherry tomatoes also play an important role in lending their sweet and sticky juices. It is basically a tray bake in which all the ingredients are prepared separately and then assembled before being put in the oven to roast: The potatoes are boiled. The tomatoes are blanched to remove their skins. The chicken is seared to render its fat and crisp its skin. Finally everything is tossed through with a pesto of oregano, olive oil, and red-wine vinegar, which ties the whole meal together, giving it a Mediterranean touch. In the end it becomes a sticky, crispy oh-so good family-pleasing meal.
This summer I'm participating in A Way to Garden's Third Annual Summer Fest. Every Wednesday a summer produce will be the theme. This Wednesday it's potatoes. To participate all you have to do is something as simple as leaving a comment or linking to a favorite blog post or informational site. You can share gardening tips, recipes, and/or pictures. Visit the Summer Fest link for more information. Many other blogs are participating and it would be great to see how far the conversation goes.
My favorite recipes using potatoes:
Spinach and Mushroom-Stuffed Pork Roulade with Parslied Purple Potatoes
Pommes Frites with Mayonnaise
Roasted Chicken with New Potatoes and Cherry Tomatoes
Note: This recipe is based on Jamie Oliver's "Crispy and Sticky Chicken Thighs with Squashed New Potatoes and Tomatoes" from Jamie at Home.
Tip: Removing the skins from the cherry tomatoes is an extra step that is worth taking. It allows their juices to better intermingle with the other components of this dish. Prick their bottoms with the point of a knife, add them to a bowl, and pour boiling water over them. Let them sit for a minute or two. Drain, let cool slightly, and pinch off their skins.
10 to 12 skin-on chicken thighs, boned, cut into halves
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1-3/4 pounds small new potatoes, such as fingerling, skins on, boiled
1-1/4 pounds cherry tomatoes, blanched, skins removed
1 bunch fresh oregano, leaves only
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
6 ounces arugula, for serving
1/2 lemon, juiced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle chicken thigh pieces with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss together until coated all over.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high to high heat. Add the chicken pieces, skin-side down, and sear until most of the fat has rendered and the meat is mostly cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes total. Using tongs, remove to a rimmed baking sheet.
Press each potato using your thumb or a large spoon until slightly smashed. Add to the baking sheet. Add the blanched and skinned tomatoes.
In a pestle and mortar, combine half the oregano leaves with 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pound until it turns into a paste. Pour it over the chicken, potatoes, and tomatoes. Add the remaining oregano leaves. Toss everything together carefully so as not to crush the tomatoes. Spread out in a single layer. Bake for 40 minutes until golden. Serve with arugula tossed in 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Yield: 6 servings.