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Perfect Potatoes (Recipe: Grilled Rosemary and Garlic Skewered Potatoes)

June 2, 2012

I could go on and on about the food/memory connection. The older I get, the more I appreciate it. Those memories keep my departed family members very much alive in my mind. A certain food will spark a memory of an event that may have happened 40 or 50 years ago, but it seems like yesterday. Occasionally, memories are so crisp and clear,  and the details so vivid, I can even see colors. That, my friends, is a sweet blessing.

Potatoes immediately arouse  a memory of my mother.

The memory has nothing to do with a favorite potato recipe she made.  Potatoes weren’t even her favorite food.  Oh, she loved potatoes. But they didn’t rate higher on her food preference scale than fresh homegrown tomatoes or Lady Finger peas.


She used the potatoes in common ways: in soups and stews, roasted along with pot roast , potato salad and occasionally mashed.  But that still has nothing to do with my most vivid memory of my mother and potatoes.

Rather than the  dishes she cooked using potatoes, my memory involved the way she carefully prepared the potatoes prior to cooking.    She made them perfect and blemish free. Hard as I try, I can’t seem to get my peeled potatoes  as perfect as Mama’s.

Her attention to detail and diligence with food was relegated to potatoes. The kitchen wasn’t her favorite room in the house. Putting meals together was a utilitarian function. But those potatoes were perfectly peeled and cleaned. Consistently perfect. I suppose  a metaphor  can be derived from this story and applied to a lesson about life. Instead of focusing on the lesson, my attention focuses on the memory. Lessons are abundant and valuable. But a  vivid, crisp  memory of your mother is sometimes scarce and always  invaluable.

Y’all come see us!

Grilled Rosemary and Garlic Skewered  Potatoes

yield: 4 or 5 servings

4 or 5 Yukon gold potatoes, washed and peeled. Get off the blemishes, the best you can,  and make them as close to perfect as possible.

1/4 cup olive oil

6 inch sprig of fresh rosemary

1 to 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

Soak skewers in water and set aside.

Add olive oil to a small pan along with the fresh rosemary twig, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt. There’s no need to strip the leaves from the rosemary or mince the garlic because the oil will be strained prior to use. Simply peel the garlic clove  and whack it with your knife  to create more surface area making it easier for the garlic to infuse its flavor into the oil. Don’t boil the oil, just heat it up.  Remove from the burner and set aside.

Cut the potatoes in large chunks, about 2 inches.  Place in a pot, cover with water.  Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender but still firm enough to hold their shape on a skewer.  Drain. Once they are cool enough to handle, place them on skewers. It’s easier to skewer them if you leave the potato piece on a hard surface and stick the skewer into the potato instead of picking up the potato and threading it on the skewer.  The potatoes will hold together better the less they are handled. I used rosemary twigs for skewers because I have lots of rosemary and I love the scent of rosemary on the grill.  Plus, it’s a fun thing to do and it looks rather nifty. At least I think it does.

The tops of the twigs that have the leaves remaining look so cute….until you fire them up on the grill.  Then they burn.  I snapped this shot while they are still cute.

Strain the olive oil which is now infused with lovely flavors of rosemary and garlic.  Brush the potato  skewers with the oil. Place on a hot grill.  Flip them once and brown on both sides. The amount of grill time will depend on (1) how big you make your potato pieces , (2) how long you parboiled them and (3) how hot you have your grill. Brush the remaining infused olive oil while the potatoes are on the grill.  Don’t let one drop of that stuff go to waste.

As soon as the potatoes brown to your liking, remove them from the grill.  If you feel the potato isn’t soft enough, lightly tent them with aluminum foil and let them sit for   5 to 10  minutes. Sprinkle with kosher salt and serve them in a lovely star-shaped, aqua colored textured bowl that was given to you by your good friend, Dawn. If you’re not as fortunate as me to have such a friend as Dawn who gives you beautiful dishes as gifts, pick out the prettiest plate you have to serve your potatoes.

You might also enjoy:

Buttermilk and Chive Scalloped Potatoes

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Honey Cinnamon Butter

Asparagus and New Potato Hash

Hot Country Potato Salad



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22 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2012 12:14 am

    Love the food memory. I remember my mother always saying, “You’re peeling half the potato off!” LOL My potatoes were PERFECT. Much to the chagrin of my mother’s food budget.

    • June 3, 2012 6:30 am


      I do think the trick to perfect potatoes is to peel and peel and peel and peel. That’s what I do wrong. I only peel once. :)

  2. Danny Taylor permalink
    June 3, 2012 7:29 am

    You can’t get much simpler or yummy than this grill’n favorite of many grill master’s. Love the rosemary twigs as the skewers…have never thought of that….thanks for that little tidbit!
    The perfectly peeled potato must be a Phillips thing as I have the same compulsion…hahaha!! Thanks for this quick and easy but tasty offering!

    • June 3, 2012 7:41 am


      Maybe it was a Phillips thing. I don’t recall Granny being as concerned about peeling the perfect potato as was Mama. It may not as been as apparent to me because was particular about the way her food was prepared and cooked anyway.

      I like using rosemary twigs as skewers because the twigs infuse a bit of rosemary flavor when they heat up. :)

  3. Jean permalink
    June 3, 2012 7:51 am

    Jackie, I don’t remember if my mother’s peeled potatoes were perfect looking but we always had potato salad on Sundays. Apparently my father loved it and I grew to hate it for years. It was always perfectly decorated on top with paprika and sometimes slices of green peppers. I have finally gotten to the point I can eat it again but it always reminds me of home. Your rosemary potatoes look delish!

    • June 3, 2012 9:31 am


      Potato salad is such a big part of our Southern culture. My family ate it hot instead of cold. It would more than likely be part of every big celebration or meal that we enjoyed. I never grew tired of it but I’ve come to realize that I like my rustic version over a more complicated version. :)

      • Jean permalink
        June 3, 2012 9:44 am

        We ate it hot also….but then leftover was cold…..UGH! I tend to like more uncomplicated things too.

  4. Danny Taylor permalink
    June 3, 2012 7:55 am

    Yeah, I’m cursed with the “Perfect Potato” syndrome…I also have to clean up as I prep and cook…wash my hands about 50 times…wipe the counters down…wash dishes as I go, then serve up the meal, eat and clean up the kitchen, put up the left overs and leave the kitchen clean before I can sit and enjoy myself!!! Crazy!!

  5. June 3, 2012 4:51 pm

    The potatoes look yummy : ) I liked the memory of your Mother peeling her potatoes. Pap always told me he’d hate to be stranded on an Island with me-because I waste to much tater with the peel : )

  6. Ann permalink
    June 4, 2012 7:43 am

    I always seemed to have trouble peeling potatoes, but we didn’t have one of those fancy potatoe peelers like they make now – mine were much smaller when I was done! Love the rosemary idea, will have to check that out!

    • June 4, 2012 3:00 pm


      I didn’t use vegetable peelers, either, for a long time. Instead, I used a paring knife. Now I have a good vegetable peeler that works like a charm! :)

  7. Mary permalink
    June 4, 2012 2:05 pm

    That’s some great sounding recipe, and the picture looks fantastic. Can’t wait to give this a try!!! I don’t care if the potatoes are “perfect” just as long as they are on the table. lol A meal is not a meal without some kind of potato! And, how right you are…..memories are truly sweet blessings! Have a great week. Thanks for sharing!!

    • June 4, 2012 2:59 pm


      Thanks for the comment about the picture. I finally broke down and invested in a “big girl camera” so I could improve the quality of my photos. I felt that my food photography lagged well behind my writing and recipe development. I hope you will start to enjoying my food photos!

      It’s always good to hear from you, Mary!

  8. June 4, 2012 5:56 pm

    Another stellar post dear Jackie! Love it! xoxoxo

  9. June 6, 2012 3:05 pm

    it’s just a fact that food on a stick tastes better. i’m not sure why, but in my experience, it just happens magically. :)

    • June 7, 2012 9:02 am


      Sticks DO have magical powers when they are used as cooking implements! Think roasted marshmallows! :)


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