Friday, May 31, 2013

book and cook it; lottie greer's fried potatoes with rock salt and chives

Absalom Greer pushed open a door and the rector stood on the threshold in happy amazement.  Before him was a room with ancient leaded windows gleaming with the last rays of sunlight.  In the center of the room stood a large table laid with a white cloth and a variety of steaming dishes, and on it burned an oil lamp.

In the corner of the room, a fire crackled in the grate, and books lined the walls behind a pair of comfortable reading chairs.  A worn black Bible lay on the table next to one of the chairs, and an orange cat curled peacefully on the deep windowsill.  

He thought he'd never entered a home so peaceable in spirit.

A tall, slender woman moved into the room from the kitchen, wearing an apron... She smiled shyly and extended her hand.  "Father Tim," said Absalom Greer, "Lottie Miller!  My joy and my crown, my earlthy shield and buckler, and my widowed sister...  

Lottie Miller had not spoken, but had passed each dish and platter, it seemed to the rector, at just the right time.  He had a second helping of potatoes that had been sliced and fried with rock salt and chives, and another helping of roasted lamb, which was as fine as any lamb he'd tasted in a very long time.  
(excerpt from At Home in Mitford)

These last few lines immediately caught my eye when reading the first book of the Mitford series for the first time through.  Rock salt?  How neat is that?!?  To say I was excited when I found the actual recipe in the cookbook is an understatement.  I'm telling you, these characters just come to life through the best way possible...  home-cooked, well-loved, ready-to-share-with-others food!  What a simple side dish with a little flair.  And I'm never, ever disappointed when a cast iron skillet is involved.  It's probably my favorite "pan" in my whole collection.

These potatoes would make a great accompaniment to any meat.  Steak on the grill.  A moist pork loin, or as it was enjoyed in Lottie's spread, roasted lamb.  

I encourage you to serve these right in the pan on the table.  It's beautiful!  And the sprinkling of green really brings the outdoors in... especially if you grow chives like we do.  Earthy and a little more onion-y, they are so easy to maintain and worth the effort!

Lottie Greer's Fried Potatoes with Rock Salt and Chives 
  • 2 1/2 pounds (about 7 medium) red potatoes, peeled
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. salted butter
  • 1 tbsp. rock salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  
~ Cut the potatoes into 1/4-1/2 inch slices.
~ Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy black iron skillet for 3 minutes.
~ Add the potatoes and sauté, stirring every few minutes until they start to brown, about 
    10 minutes.
~ Stir in the butter, cover the skillet, and place in the oven for 30-45 minutes.
~ Remove from the oven and add the rock salt and pepper.  
~ Sprinkle the chives on top and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper before serving.

Tips and Tricks:
  • You can peel and slice the potatoes ahead of time; place them in a bowl of cold water and refrigerate.  When you're ready to use them, drain well and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Yukon gold potatoes may be substituted for the red potatoes.
* Lottie Greer is also Lottie Miller.  A little drama in Mitford gave cause for the multiple
   last names.  
Recipe very slightly adapted from Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader

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