Now that we’ve survived February’s deep freeze, we hope we’re on our way the lamb part of March, and spring beyond it. Still, there’s many more weeks of slim pickings in the produce section of the grocery store, so I thought it might be helpful to share a recipe that principally uses two ingredients that can be generally found, in decent shape, just about anywhere at any time: lemons and potatoes.
The recipe is an adaptation of ‘Potatoes with Lemon’ from The River Café Easy (2003) by (the late) Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers. ‘Easy’ features recipes with a only a few ingredients, in this case: potatoes, garlic, lemons, marjoram and extra-virgin olive oil. In the dozen or so years that my wife and have been making this dish (it’s one of the rare recipes that either of us make) we’ve dropped the marjoram for thyme, mostly just because we’re more likely to have it around, but any aromatic herb (rosemary comes to mind right away) will do. Potatoes with Lemon is at its essence a roast potatoes recipes, and can be riffed on accordingly.
It may be a testament to the nature of the season in the British Isles, but Gray and Rogers describe their potato and lemon dish as a “good summer recipe”. I’m not much for using my oven between Victoria and Labour Days, and I think it’s actually a better winter one, especially as an accompaniment to roast chicken. The lemons caramelize and release the oils in their zest to flavour the spuds. The lemon wedges sweeten enough to be eaten themselves, giving a hit of sour and bitter to the dish. A version of the recipe is posted at Gwenyth Paltrow’s website ‘goop’, here, if you find my version overly vague. I am assuming most Good Food Revolution readers know how to roast potatoes, and simply suggest they add a few lemon pieces.
The technique is easy enough for anyone who roasts potatoes in the oven. Gray and Rogers start with 500 grams (a pound) of potatoes (they say waxy, I say Yukon Gold) and match that with 2 lemons. They say to cut the potatoes in wedges, but we’ve cut them any which way, so this might well be left to personal preference. The lemons need to be cut into half or third wedges, so that they fit on a fork, once they’ve been cooked. The potatoes, lemons, herbs and salt (pepper of you like, or chili flakes if you like) are then tossed in olive oil, so they’re coated and put into a roasting pan. We reserve the garlic cloves.
We roast our potatoes at 400F for about an hour to get them good and golden. At the half hour mark we add garlic cloves (about two or three a person) whole and unpeeled to roast to the point of being soft, but not dry. At that half hour point we also turn everything over so they crisp up evenly. And that’s about it.