This is one of the easiest and tastiest recipes that everyone must try. It’s what you want when you want a crisp, roast potato, only better. And all you have to do is boil some small potatoes, smash them flat and blast them in a hot oven until they are terminally crisp. Serve with aubergine and lamb, pan-fried fish, grilled sausages, or even on their own, with drinks. It is much healthier option then deep fried chips and gives much more flavour.
The British potato season begins in April with waxy Jersey Royals, which continue into June. Other early potatoes, including waxy salad varieties, start to appear in May. Duke of York (1942) come into season in September and last through to April, but the main potato season begins in October. These potatoes are available until early spring – but beware that, towards the end of storage in March, the starch in potatoes turns to sugar, so chips made from stored varieties will tend to be soggy but sweeter.
Despite this humble tuber’s popularity, shoppers have generally been offered very little choice about what types of potato to choose from. Supermarkets and some farmers’ markets are increasing their range of old and new potato varieties, with myriad tastes and textures. Whichever you buy, they should be firm and well-shaped with no eyes or green patches.
The British tend to prefer white-fleshed tatties, whereas the Dutch and Spanish like yellow-fleshed potatoes, but colour makes little difference to the taste. Once cooked the texture of potatoes can range from smooth, waxy-textured flesh perfect for salads to floury-textured flesh ideal for fluffy mashed potato, so it’s important to know what type of potato you’ve bought before you decide how to cook them.
16 small, round potatoes
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp fennel or caraway seeds
small handful of thyme sprigs
Heat the oven to 250°C. Don’t peel the potatoes. Just bung them into a pot of salted water, bring to boil and simmer for around 15 minutes, until they’ll take a skewer without too much resistance. They should be just about cooked, without being soft.
Drain the potatoes and arrange on a lightly oiled baking tray. Use a potato masher to squash each potato flat, until it is twice its original diameter. Brush the tops with the olive oil, and scatter with sea salt, black pepper, fennel seeds and thyme sprigs.
Bake potatoes on the top shelf of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until crisp and golden. Serve hot.