“It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.”
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
It’s 11 March today, Douglas Adams’ birthday. His book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, clearly enjoyed by the two Saucy Dressings’ tasters, above (one was reading to the other), is also one of my favourite books. It’s marvellously zany, the dry humour encapsulating much wisdom – “Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”seeming to be a particularly reasonable question, for example.
I think it’s Arthur Dent who comments that potatoes, on their own, completely naked as it were, are not enough.
At the very least you need butter and salt.
But that is the very least. So to celebrate Adam’s life and work Saucy Dressings is posting on the best potato recipes – and here they are, some fifteen of them.
No 1 Montepulciano onion-braised potatoes
Slow-cooked in Noilly Prat vermouth, these soft, scented potatoes can be quickly extended into a whole meal by adding artichoke hearts and ricotta-stuffed chicken. Here’s the link.
No 2 Crushed lemony potatoes
This is one of my favourite ways of cooking potatoes, just straightforward boiling. Needless to say there is no peeling involved and preparation time is minimal. Here’s the link.
No 3 German potato salad
The Germans excel at this – although it’s more a method than a prescriptive recipe – every hausfrau has her own approach – some add bacon. Here’s the link.
No 4 How to cook the best ever baked potatoes in their jackets
It’s all in the massaging. Simple method explained. Emergency method as to what to do to speed up the process if you have forgotten to put them in on time. And a whole list of creative fillings. Here’s the link.
No 5 How to cook Jersey Royal potatoes – don’t shock the tuber!
For heaven’s sake don’t peel them (I’m sure you knew that); and put them in cold water, then bring to the boil, in spite of advice from many celebrities. Here’s the link.
No 6 Wonderful wedge lemon-roasted potatoes instead of chips
I don’t do chips – I am not cluttering up my kitchen with a deep fat fryer, and I am not throwing away all that fat. And in any case Life is Too Short. Whenever a dish calls for chips, this is what I do instead – it is genuinely no work – and the lemon makes them a bit unusual. Here’s the link.
No 7 My son’s super-excellent roast potatoes
Using a method developed over decades, with great dedication. Includes techniques recommended by such culinary giants as Nigella and Heston; and an idea for what to do with leftover roast potatoes. Here’s the link.
No 8 Poem-inspired fried potatoes
The best way to make fried potatoes, as lyrically described in Pablo Neruda’s poem, Papas Fritas. Here’s the link.
No 9 Greco-Italian potatoes with greens
A dish of potatoes and mixed greens (called yahnera) which were to be found the last time I was in Crete (some decades ago) in the markets in spring. The predominant flavour of these bunches comes from wild fennel, but they would also include a number of other plants – chrysanthemum for example. Some Italian chard, fennel and mild onion is also included. Here’s the link.
No 10 Impressive Pommes Anna
Created during the era of Napoleon III, and named, as were so many culinary triumphs in those days, after one of the grandes cocottes of the period. These look difficult, but if you follow these instructions they are a cinch. Here’s the link.
No 11 Savoury Tarte Tatin
Ideal for vegetarians this one – it will make the centrepiece of an impressive spread. Here’s the link.
No 12 Dauphinois potatoes made using the dry stone wall technique
Naughty, and a lot more than just nice, this is a creamy, dreamy way of cooking potatoes. Here’s the link.
No 13 How to keep your instant mash a state secret
What it says on the tin: quick, easy, and no one will ever know. Comes with a list of interesting things to add – mayonnaise, vanilla, black pudding, truffle oil…. and lots of other ideas you might not have thought of. Here’s the link.
No 14 Tortilla Española
I’ve been looking for the secret to making this wonderful Spanish dish for a long time. Now I know that time is the essence. Post to come.
No 15 2.00 am patatas bravas
Another superlative Spanish way of slowly braising potatoes incorporating a little spicy, warming heat. Again, post to come. Drink with a cold, dry sherry.