Hunting and Gathering: Melting Potatoes

Hunting and Gathering: Melting Potatoes

by Lisa Barlow

Melting potatoes I’ve been getting a lot of diet advice lately. Who hasn’t? It’s January and if you turn on the television, pick up a magazine in a doctor’s room, click open your email or drive past a billboard, you’re a target.  “Hey Fatty” one publication taunts, “those Iced Oreo Balls we told you to make for your office party last month, now you’re wearing them!” There’s penance to pay for holiday fun and everyone from Britney to Dr. Oz want to tell us how to reclaim our inner Skinny Bitches so we can fit into our new pajama jean britches.

Thus prompted by the media, this year I have begun my own reformation with the same dedication and rigor with which I begin every new year.  Each morning I drink a slimming protein shake laden with green powder, flax seeds and a series of unpronounceable berry extracts that are cultivated in the Himalayas, the Hunzu Valley of Pakistan and the Costa Rican rainforest. And I feel great!

Until I am hungry again at lunchtime and remember that there is leftover spaghetti Bolognese in the fridge and a chocolate bar that came in my Christmas stocking.  Granted, I am easily distracted, but it’s winter, folks. It’s cold out there and nature has programmed us to nourish ourselves by eating warm foods with sufficient calories to provide ample energy for the next few months. 

And so, somewhat perversely in the face of the media onslaught you are either enduring or inspired by, I am giving you a recipe for the most delicious butter-laden potatoes you’ll ever taste. They are wonderful as an accompaniment to roast chicken or meat, but Barbara Kafka, who created this recipe, knows that some people do not need to overindulge. This is why she prefers to eat them herself as an entrée with a green salad and a glass of white wine.

Michael Pollan says it best in his book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” That’s the best diet advice there is and a New Year’s resolution any of us can make. It leaves room for both protein shakes and potatoes…even the spaghetti Bolognese and the chocolate bar. Just not too much.

Melting Potatoes
Adapted from Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka

3 Tablespoons butter + 1 Tablespoon reserved in fridge
3 Tablespoons olive oil
4 Large baking potatoes (You can use other kinds of potatoes too. The starchier they are, the more they will crisp up.)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 ½ cups Chicken stock (Use homemade if you have it. It tasted much better in this recipe.)

    •    Heat oven to 500° F.
    •    Melt 3 Tablespoons butter on a large jelly roll pan. Remove from oven.
    •    Peel potatoes and cut them into 2-inch cubes. (Cut in half lengthwise, cut halves again lengthwise. Cut pieces into thirds.)
    •    Put potatoes onto buttered pan with 3 Tablespoons olive oil. Coat them well. Salt and pepper.
    •    Roast for 15 minutes.
    •    Turn the potatoes with a spatula or tongs. Roast for 10 minutes more.
    •    Turn again and roast another 10 minutes.
    •    Remove from oven. Pour Chicken broth onto pan. Roast 15 minutes until the broth has been absorbed.
    •    You can put the potatoes aside at this point it you are making them ahead of your meal.
    •    When ready to serve, dot them with reserved butter. You may be tempted to skip this step, seeing as I have reminded you about dieting. Don’t. The little bit of extra butter makes the potatoes glisten and adds a delicious layer of flavor.
    •     Place in oven until hot and serve.

LB2 Lisa Barlow is a writer and photographer who divides her time between New York, Telluride and  San Pancho, Mexico. An enthusiastic omnivore, she specializes in stories about food.

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