Dressed to thrill

New pota­toes need lit­tle more than salt to ex­cel, but amaze with a dab of aioli, sum­mer tartare, bravas or salmoriglio. And baked with toma­toes they yield to a sticky sweet­ness ...

The Guardian - Cook - - The Modern Cook - Anna Jones

The first new pota­toes for me are as much a sign that sum­mer is around the cor­ner as straw­ber­ries or as­para­gus are. The lit­tle jer­sey roy­als don’t look like much, cov­ered in their tell­tale mat of dusty brown soil but, af­ter a good scrub, their golden skins are un­veiled, so thin you can flick them off with a thumb. I re­mem­ber dig­ging up new pota­toes as a kid – as soon as they were out of the ground I’d try to rub the skins off. They seemed so tiny, sweet and friendly; tiny jew­els of the earth.

Most su­per­mar­kets sell jer­sey roy­als (and the equally good cor­nish ear­lies) al­ready washed, which, while un­doubt­edly eas­ier on a school night, does make them lose some of their won­der for me. It’s so rare we get to con­nect with ex­actly where our food comes from, and the dirt that grasps these pota­toes does just that.

A fresh jer­sey needs lit­tle em­bel­lish­ment – boiled in salted wa­ter and dabbed with but­ter and ex­tra salt is prob­a­bly the way I like them best, but I do branch out a bit. I try to make the most of jer­seys and other new pota­toes, which means, like Bri­tish as­para­gus, I eat them at least twice a week while they are in sea­son.

I cook my new pota­toes in a deep pot. I use a lot of wa­ter – al­most as much as I would if I were to cook pasta; I find they cook bet­ter that way. I usu­ally start the pota­toes in cold wa­ter rather than hot, which keeps the in­sides from be­com­ing wa­tery. That said, some nights when I am in a hurry I boil the ket­tle and add them to hot wa­ter to speed things up. I am sure some peo­ple can tell the dif­fer­ence, but I’ve never had any com­plaints.

The first recipe here is for sim­ply boiled jer­seys with four quick dress­ings, my take on four clas­sic sauces: a gar­lic aioli, a sum­mer tartare, a quick and classy patatas bravas sauce, and a salmoriglio – es­sen­tially a herb oil made with mar­jo­ram or oregano, although thyme would do at a pinch.

I must in­clude an hon­est note on the aioli. I have no love for strong gar­lic – I make aioli with one clove. How­ever, when I tested vary­ing amounts on friends, the con­sen­sus was that a fiery three-clove ver­sion was the sweet spot. I’ll leave it up to you to add as much as you wish.

The sec­ond recipe is less pure, but no less won­der­ful. A lovely late-spring sup­per, this dish’s tomato and onion meld and mel­low in the oven in a way that al­lows the flavour of the jer­seys to come though. Their sweet­ness and the scar­let gravy they make in the tray are proof that sum­mer can’t be too far away.

Sim­ple jer­sey roy­als with four dress­ings

Each of the dress­ing recipes is enough for 1kg of pota­toes. For a crowd, you might want twice as many pota­toes and a cou­ple of dress­ings.

Serves 4 as a side dish

1kg jer­sey royal or other new pota­toes, scrubbed clean Salt

1 Put the pota­toes in a saucepan and cover with plenty of cold wa­ter. Add a big pinch of salt, put on the heat and bring to the boil. Sim­mer, cov­ered, for about 10 min­utes (you may need longer for big­ger pota­toes), or un­til a knife slides into their flesh eas­ily.

2 Drain the pota­toes well and re­turn to the heat for 2 min­utes, to steam away their mois­ture. Serve with a big dol­lop of but­ter, or one of the top­pings be­low.

For the aioli

2 egg yolks ¼ tsp salt 1 tbsp di­jon mus­tard 1 lemon, juiced 250ml rape­seed oil 3 gar­lic cloves, crushed

1 Start with all your in­gre­di­ents at room tem­per­a­ture. Put a damp tea towel be­neath a mix­ing bowl (or use a food pro­ces­sor). Add the egg yolks, salt, mus­tard and lemon juice. Whisk to­gether for a few min­utes.

2 Add the oil, drip by drip, while

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