I’m very fond of starch. I must be since I love potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, cous cous, porridge, noodles, that eastern European thing – oh yes, bulgar wheat, and corn meal (but not, absolutely never, pearl barley)). the jury is still out onPolenta – I’ve only ever had it once and it came with squid in a black ink sauce which was simply nasty and black to boot.
But of all the delicious, sticky, gently tasty starch foods, potato is still my favourite. There seems to be no end to the ways you can dress it up. In the Andes they grow nearly 4,000 native varieties – no I didn’t get that wrong. The rest of the world grows a few too. One of the national dishes of Peru is an egg, potato, cheese and slightly chilli dish – gorgeous.
Potatoes can be cooked creamy, crispy, soggy, gluey, soupy, sticky, rich, thin, light, heavy. Almost no end to the possibilities. They go with nearly everything. There are very few flavourings they don’t absorb and enhance. They can be done earthy, gourmet, oriental and hot and cold.
Yes well I’m just inventing a new dish with them. (As if there weren’t enough already) They like to be paired with strong flavours and I’m doing them with mustard and oregano although the basic inspiration is a combination of Indian and French the result will be just tasty. I hope. I’ve been cooking a potato curry for years where you fry the potatoes in butter (ghee if you’re really being authentic) with spices and onion (or not onion, it depends which recipe I’ve forgotten) and then you simmer them till they’re tender and have absorbed a lot of the liquid, and have in fact thickened it quite a lot. And then recently I watched Raymond Blanc cooking that gorgeous French buttery thing where, again, you fry them in butter and then simmer them very very gently till they’re all buttery and soft and have a bit of rich buttery, potatoey liquid left. So today’s thing is mustardy pots with oregano and stock. Recipe below. I’ll tell you later if it worked but the mustard, oregano, stock, butter combination is um. Yummy. Mmmm.
Potatoes (Charlottes or another waxy variety – new, anything like that) peeled and cut into medium sized chunks. Enough for two. (I expect it would work with little new potatoes, whole. But scraped – no skin wanted here)
Enough olive oil and butter in equal quantities to have the potato chunks swimming a bit in a cosy saucepan
A big heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard
A big sprinkle of dried oregano
Enough real and concentrated chicken stock to barely cover the potatoes – about 1/2 pint I guess. (you can always use a stock cube and water but real stock is extra yummy)
salt and pepper to season
Heat the oil and butter together in the cosy pan and then add the potato chunks.
Fry/simmer them in the oil, turning and rearranging from time to time to make sure that all of them get browned a bit more or less all over.
Add the oregano, mustard and stock, season to taste with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer.
Cook till tender and the liquid has thickened a little.
Not bad at all. Next time, leave the mustard till after the simmering.