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