Remember that scene in Forrest Gump when Forrest’s marine pal Bubba, who was a shrimper, was listing off all the things he could do with shrimp. “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.” Well we’re a long way from the sea so not too many shrimp around — and for any of you who say ‘shrimps’ please stop right now — but there is another which can be just as versatile; the potato. Even better as now is just the start of new ‘new potato’ season.
New potatoes are freshly harvested young potatoes, some may be as small as your thumb. They have paper-thin skins and lots of moisture inside, tending to be sweeter than older potatoes. Much like corn, which doesn’t taste as sweet a few days after picking. Around Hungary new potatoes tend to have a thin red skin and are coming to market now. While sometimes it’s difficult to find which potato are the new ones and which are older, an easy way to tell is by looking at the price. Those old taters just won’t be able to find buyers if their prices are above HUF 1000 p/kg while those just out of the ground can. When you find the right ones you’ll only go back when the new ones are all gone.
Buying and storing:
Because they have such thin skins and high moisture levels, new potatoes don’t keep as well as more mature potatoes. Keep them in a paper bag or loosely wrapped plastic in the fridge and use new potatoes within a few days of buying. Resist the temptation to wash new potatoes before storing them. Dirt clinging to the skin will actually help keep them fresh while water on the outside will hasten bruising and softening..yuck.
This months recipe is not for the novice cook; many complicated steps.
- 500g new potatoes with skins on
- 50g butter or high quality olive oil
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary or a few of thyme
- ground rock salt
- optional – fresh parmesan cheese
Place potatoes in a pot of cold water with enough salt to make it taste just a bit salty. Bring a pot of water to a soft boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are knife tender. Drain potatoes, remove as much water as possible, and add butter or olive oil. When coated lightly salt to taste and add freshly chopped herbs and/or parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
Did you know?
- On average Australians, the world’s greatest potato lovers, eat 60kg a year per person, that’s slightly less than double the world’s average of 33kg.
- Originally from the ‘New World’, Spanish conquistadors introduced it to Europe in the 16th century.
- The potato was the first vegetable to be grown in space in 1995.
- Humans could exist solely on mashed potatoes made with milk or butter which supplement the only missing essential vitamins A and D.
- It is the most universally grown crop around the world.
- In the book ‘The Martian’, now filming around Budapest with Matt Damon, the main character who is left stranded on Mars need to grow potatoes in order to survive. (BTW its a great book)
- In 1974 an Englishman great 370 pounds of potatoes from one plant!