Recipe: salt potatoes with two dipping sauces
There’s a debate in the Bitten blog over the provenance of this simple potato recipe. The blog’s author credits it to José Andrés, possibly the most highly regarded chef in the world, who serves something similar in his new culinary temple in Los Angeles.
Not so, says a commenter. These are just salt potatoes, a specialty in Syracuse and all over central New York. The dish even has a Wikipedia entry.
Then another commenter chimes in that these potatoes are typical to the Canary Islands. And indeed Canarian wrinkly potatoes also merit a Wikipedia entry.
So, anyway. I don’t know where these potatoes are from, but I made them this weekend and I know that they’re tasty. In addition to the dipping sauce in the Andrés version, I made up an additional condiment based on the Canary Island commenter’s suggestion. Note that the recipe calls for 1 pound of potatoes, but I made closer to 2 pounds, and afterward I wished I had made more.
* 1 pounds fingerling potatoes, washed
* 3 cups water
* 1/2 cup Kosher salt
* 2 garlic cloves, skins on
* 1 cup Italian parsley, washed, leaves only
* 1 cup cilantro, washed, leaves only
* 1/2 cup olive oil, plus two tablespoons
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 cup roasted red peppers (from a jar is easiest)
* 1 tsp paprika
* dash cayenne pepper (optional)
1. Put the potatoes, water, and salt into a pot and place over medium heat. After the water starts to simmer, continue cooking until the potatoes become tender, about 10 minutes. Pour off as much water as possible, keeping undissolved salt (if any) in the pot.
2. Lower the heat and keep an eye on the potatoes. The goal is to cook off all the remaining water and leave the potatoes covered in a fine layer of salt. This isn’t too tricky, but you really want to avoid burning the contents of the pot. When the water is gone, remove the potatoes from the heat and let them cool.
3. Put the unpeeled garlic cloves on a skewer and char them over an open flame. The papery skins will catch fire and burn away. Brush off any blackened bits and roughly chop the cloves.
4. To make the first dipping sauce, place the parsley and cilantro leaves, half the charred garlic, black pepper, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup of olive oil into a blender or food processor and puree to a smooth consistency.
5. To make the second dipping sauce, place the red peppers, the other half of the charred garlic, paprika, cayenne if using, a pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. (You may want to play with the proportions of oil and spices. I wasn’t exactly measuring this stuff out with a gram scale when I threw it together.)
6. If necessary, wipe any excess salt from the potatoes with a towel, taking care not to break the skins. Pour the sauces into small bowls. Serve everything at room temperature.
* This dish is already vegan, so no need to make any adjustments in that direction. You can add a few roasted almonds to the green sauce to take it in more of a pesto direction.
* These sauces are pretty versatile. A Cuban restaurant in my neighborhood serves a version of the green sauce (minus the garlic) alongside fried plantains for dipping. The combo is pretty much like crack.