Most people love potatoes and for some, a meal is not a meal without them. This ubiquitous veggie is of global importance being the fourth most important food grown worldwide after corn, wheat and rice. Potatoes appear in every cuisine and sustained civilizations for thousands of years (Peru, Incas). Potatoes grow in a wide range of soils, climates and geographical conditions and to this day help enhance food security because they are easy to cultivate and calorie for calorie are one of the most efficient foods to produce. Potatoes originated in the Andes and were brought over to Europe by the Spanish Conquistadors. In Europe they offered an alternative crop to grains and became a staple there as well. The eventual outbreak of the “potato blight” in Europe caused starvation and poverty throughout the continent and especially in Ireland in the 1940’s. In 1995 potatoes were grown by Nassau in space in an attempt to feed astronauts on long space voyages. Potatoes have been the subject of entire books (yes) and you can read about their importance to civilizations in these books:
- or the cookbook In Praise of Potatoes by the British author Lindsey Bareham
Potatoes are versatile, lending themselves to rustic or elegant, casual or formal presentation. They mix well in the company of herbs and spices and yield to several cooking methods from roasting and grilling to boiling and steaming, to mashing or baking. They show up at breakfast, lunch and dinner and must be the favourite snack of all times (French Fries and potato chips).
Choosing the right type of potatoes is important in a recipe:
- Starchy potatoes, known as Russet or brown baking potatoes have thicker outer skin and dry interior. They cook to a mealy consistency and are excellent for baking but not for boiling as they tend to fall apart when cooked. These are great for baked potatoes and are perfect for mashed potatoes.
- All purpose potatoes are the lighter, thinner skinned ones and are known as Yukon Gold or yellow skinned potatoes. They contain more moisture and are great for roasted, boiling, sautéeing and baked casserole potato dishes.
- Waxy potatoes, including fingerling, red and new potatoes are thin skinned with a bit of a shine. These are great for potato salads, roasting, boiling or steaming.
So after all this infomercial about potatoes, on to the recipe of roasted potatoes. I tend to include potatoes quite frequently in my cooking and one of my favourite ways is simply to roast them with good olive oil, garlic, salt and herbs. This time they got herbal notes from fresh rosemary and served with blackberry ketchup I purchased at Okanagan Street Foods in Kelowna (check your local sources).
Use the Yukon gold potatoes for this dish because they keep their shape and cook to crispy outside yet soft texture inside. I cut them into chunks and then toss with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and paprika, slice a couple of garlic cloves over and slide into a hot oven for 30-40 minutes or so until they are just beautifully golden and crispy outside with soft interior. Serve them with dinner or as a snack instead of French fries.
2 lb potatoes
1 teaspoon salt or more
1/4 cup olive oil
2 long sprigs rosemary, needles stripped and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
Wash and peel the potatoes (or leave skin on).
Cut into equal size chunks.
Drizzle with enough rosemary infused olive oil to coat the potatoes lightly.
Sprinkle with salt.
Add sliced garlic and mix.
Place potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and place in a preheated 400℉ oven.
Roast for 30 minutes or so, turning them once or twice during the roasting (carefully).
When the potatoes are cooked through and crispy golden on the outside remove from the oven.
Drizzle remaining rosemary-olive oil and add more salt if needed.
Serve with blackberry ketchup. I am offering a quick version for making blackberry ketchup as well as a couple of links to recipes on the internet for more authentic versions. Check your resources for purchasing it form a good deli, it lasts a long time in the fridge.
Quick blackberry ketchup:
3/4 cup blackberry jam, strained if there are blackberry pieces in it
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 or 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Combine ingredients (only 1 tablespoon vinegar) in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Cook for a few minutes, stirring, to allow flavours to combine.
Remove from heat and taste. Add the other tablespoon vinegar if needed.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
Blackberry ketchup recipes around the internet