Sunday, June 9, 2013

New Potatoes in Parchment

It is new potato season! Seek them out. You may need to ask. When you find them they may be a bit dirty. Or, the skins look thinner and somewhat “papery”. They have a more earthy fragrance and once you have tried them, you’ll begin to notice difference. 

This is one of my favorite ways of preparing them. But, I’ll admit the “parchment” thing can seem a little intimidating if you haven’t tried it before. Once you have successfully completed the folding of the paper, and see how easy it really is, you won’t have any qualms about doing it again. You can cook a number of different items in parchment, like chicken breast or fish. 

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Ideally you don’t want to open the paper until serving, as it allows the steam to escape. Testing for doneness with fish or fowl can be a challenge (though it’s easy with potatoes.) The particular joy of this method is that when you open the packet all the fragrant aromas fill the air and you realize you are in for a treat! I’ve included step-by-step photos for the folding process. 

Ingredients                      Serves 4 as an accompaniment

½ pound small potatoes, cut into ¾ inch chunks, preferably new potatoes!
1-2 tablespoons butter in small pieces
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
2-4 cloves of garlic cut in slivers
1 T. white wine
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Wash the potatoes. Leave the skin on and cut into ¾-1 inch chunks. If you’re not using them right away put them in a bowl of water. Dry them on a towel before assembling. 

Cut a 14-16 inch length of parchment paper.  Fold in half lengthwise. Add all of the ingredients except the wine. Add the wine just before you begin folding. Make the first fold as shown to below. Move an inch and a half to the right and fold again. Take care to crease each fold firmly.  Repeat and work your way around the packet. See picture at right.


You likely have a packet similar to the picture at the top of the page.

The difficult part is done. Now place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. To test for doneness, use a toothpick to poke through the parchment and it should slide through the potato without much effort. Twenty minutes usually does it. I prefer new potatoes to be a bit firm. It could be my imagination but it seems the flavor changes when the get too done. The red varieties are especially nice for their waxy firm texture…and earthy taste! 

If you like you can add a strip or bacon or pancetta to the packet. Experiment with different herbs. Substitute a delicious extra virgin olive oil for the butter. 

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