And I mean they are simple in the very best ways. They are easy, yes. But the ingredients are at hand usually and very inexpensive. They take some time to roast, but it is unattended time. They look complex in a way, but the preparation takes mere minutes. And, finally, the method relies on the inherent goodness, the basic uncluttered flavor, of the most humble of foods, the potato.
This method…recipe is a strong word for this…came from the October 2011 Bon Appetit. I am finding ample inspiration in the magazines this month, but I think it is because every one of them is ramping up the cool weather food ideas, and I am so very ready for that. Here, the BA test kitchen put together a very doable menu for a dinner party. Their version of these potatoes are peeled, squared off and very geometric and appealing. I have taken the more rustic (read “quick” and even more “simple” here). I think my result was very compelling. However, if I were cooking for a dinner party of refined individuals (unlikely any time soon as I would need to start mingling with refined people and convince them to visit my “rustic” world), I might opt for the more formal appearance of their Roasted Domino Potatoes. Because when they are angular, they do look like fallen dominoes. Quite lovely, indeed. But, here, they look perfectly suited to accompany the cast iron skillet full of succulent garlic studded beef tenderloin that was inspired by a North Carolina fishing retreat.
3 large Russet Potatoes
10 to 12 bay leaves
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt or Sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Scrub and rinse the potatoes. You may peel them if you wish. I did not. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut the potatoes into ⅛” slices. Keep the stacks together as much as possible.
2. Grease a rimmed baking tray with either melted butter or a spritz of nonstick cooking spray. Layer the potatoes in overlapping fans from one end of the pan to the other. Insert the bay leaves into the stacks at regular intervals. Evenly drizzle the remaining melted butter over the potatoes. Sprinkle the potatoes generously with Kosher salt.
3. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until golden and the centers are tender. Don’t mind that the end slices get a little burnt. They are really rather lovely that way, and you can snack on them before serving if you find them unappealing visually. I think they are pretty.
Potatoes are interesting to me. And while I am using plain old Russets here, I would like to draw attention, at least, to the thousands of potato varieties that are out there to be enjoyed. I’ve been studying actually growing potatoes and I think, if I ever get around to remembering to plant them at the most auspicious moment, it would be quite fun. How many potato varieties can you name after Russet, Red, and Yukon Gold. Me? Not many. I would like to change that in my own life.
I use a mandoline slicer and I love it. I have plenty of gadgets that I regret having purchased, but this is not one of them. I fooled with the notion of buying one for ages and was delighted when this nice, inexpensive model was recommended by Cooks’ Illustrated some time ago. They can be cumbersome and a pain to clean, but when you need perfectly uniform slices, they are a Godsend. This is the OXO model that I have. It should go without saying that they didn’t pay me to endorse this product and I spent my own precious dimes on it. But, in case you fantasize that I get paid a pile of cash every time I mention a product, I do not.
Should you make these, save the crispy, burnt, end slices for me. But, don’t eat the bay leaves.