Hannah Palmer Egan
Winter potatoes, spring herbs
I rather enjoy early spring cooking. Lacking the gorgeous garden-market proliferation of midsummer through fall, May isn't a time for sexy, glamour-bomb food. But, after a winter of tubers, meats and cheeses, warmer days provide welcome variety as soon as the first herbs are ready to harvest. Which, in a greenhouse-driven market, is right about now. And there are plenty of cold-weather roots still kicking around.
I love eating golden-crisp potatoes, roasted in a hot oven with plenty of space around each one, year-round. Today, I tossed some with a touch of Karim Farm & Creamery's
hard Vertalia cheese, fresh dill and a few ramps I picked a couple weeks ago
. I also threw in the last bit of my first-ever guanciale
, now more than a year old...
Also, these little pommes
are easily flexitarian. Vegetarian? Vegan? Hold the meat and cheese and swap olive oil for butter — it's a fine dish even without the animal fats. And it makes fab leftovers. Just pop it in a warm oven to reheat, and you're halfway to a proper dinner.
Roasted Dilly Potatoes
Serves 8-10, or great for leftovers!
- 2 1/2 pounds red or fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
- 3-4 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peels on
- 1/2 cup fine-diced guanciale, slab bacon or pancetta
- 5-10 stems fresh dill (enough for a decent handful)
- 1 stem green onion or green garlic, or 4-5 wild leeks
- Hard Italian-style cheese (Parmesan, Grana Padano, etc.)
- Black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. and place a rack on the lowest rung. Leave a large cast-iron skillet or heavy sheet pan in the oven while it warms.
- Cut the potatoes to one-inch pieces and rinse; if using fingerlings, halve lengthwise. Peel the onion and quarter it, then cut each quarter lengthwise twice — you want nice big onion spears, not little pieces.
- When the oven is hot, remove the pan. Add the butter, let it melt, then add the potatoes, onion and whole garlic cloves. Spread everything around so the potatoes aren't touching each other. If that's not possible, you'll need to use a bigger pan, or two skillets.
- Sprinkle liberally with salt and roast for 25 minutes. Remove and turn, then return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until well browned and soft inside.
- As the potatoes are roasting, crisp up the diced pork and chiffonade the herbs. When the potatoes are done, grate cheese over top, then scatter with pork and herbs. Turn until all the potatoes are well coated. Grind pepper to taste, plus more salt if needed, and serve warm.