The potato is the workhorse of the vegetable family. Never really fashionable, let alone faddish, the potato remains eternally popular thanks to its endless applications, of which the following two have graced our table in the past week.
Buttered potato chips.
I do this for the boys, who adore potato chips. It’s a cross between a hot potato salad and traditional potato chips and it’s dead easy.
Slice several potatoes into chip size; two inches long with centimetre sides, if we can mix imperial and metric.
Boil until not soft, but getting there. Drain. Toss in a little butter, salt and a little pepper; place on a baking tray. Bake until almost crisp, scattering the pile over once or twice. Tip the whole mess into a large bowl, add more butter if desired.
I served these at our barbecue* the other night, omitting the oven stage. I placed them in a heavy cast iron frypan after parboiling instead, and sat this on the grill over very hot coals. I gave the pan a shake every now and then and, when brought to the table, they were steaming in the butter. I splashed them with white vinegar and the aroma brought noses to attention all around the table. Offer home-made mayonnaise or tartare.
(*Also on the menu: spring lamb loin chops dusted with salt and pepper and fast-grilled over sprigs of rosemary and mint torn straight from the herb garden; grilled zucchini strips with home-made pesto; salad of iceberg lettuce, tomato, capsicum, onion, cucumber, fetta and olives.)
Coucous with boiled potatoes and chili.
Cook up a pot of fluffy couscous, adding butter and salt if you wish. Or not. Just make sure it’s fluffy and not heavy. No tips here, it’s all practice and the right ratio of water to grain.
Chop a couple of unpeeled medium red potatoes into eighths and boil them. When almost done, add a dozen trimmed butter beans and some florets of broccoli. Cook another few minutes. Drain.
In a lidded frypan, slowly cook two red onions chopped into rings, almost until caramelised. Later, add lengths of red capsicum to the pan and a clove of garlic if you wish.
Place a mound of coucous in each bowl, tumble in the potatoes, butterbeans, broccoli, capsicum and onion; top with thick yogurt or sour cream and serve with chilli sauce of the Tabasco type.
The humble potato, native of the Chiloé Archipelago, in all its manifestations will always leave faddish vegetables in the shade. Celeriac remoulade anyone?