Monday, July 23, 2012

Butter Steamed New Potatoes

Butter stewed potatoes, are whole new potatoes or small, cut up red potatoes, steam cooked in butter and often sprinkled with herbs, such as parsley.
Butter stewed potatoes, are whole new potatoes or small, cut up red potatoes, steam cooked in butter and often sprinkled with herbs, such as parsley.

Butter Steamed New Potatoes

No secret here that I love potatoes I suppose. Seriously, set a pot of stewed potatoes in front of me and I'm perfectly happy to enjoy them as my meal.

Truth is, potatoes have long been a large part of the southern diet because with commonly large families, they filled a lot of bellies rather cheaply. Just like there is no one single way to make a southern fried chicken and there's no such single magic mashed potato recipe, there are a multitude of other ways to fix the spud.

Speaking of that, I wonder... do you peel your potatoes with a kitchen knife? Or with a vegetable peeler - better known at least in my house growing up, as a potato peeler? I have always used a vegetable peeler, and I can whip through a bowl of potatoes in no time with that simple tool, but I struggle with trying to do the same thing with a knife. Our primary duty as kids was to play, so Mama didn't employ us to chores or kitchen duty much, but that is the instrument she used, the one I grew up using, and frankly, the tool I still use today.

Of course I use a paring knife for other things, and I even have my own personal, and unforgettable, experience using a knife on potatoes, and it's something I've never forgotten. One of my favorite quotes is by Maya Angelou, who once said "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." It really is true, and this story will certainly demonstrate just that.

When I was in upper grade school, one day I went to the house of one of my friends from the neighborhood, who lived a few blocks up from our house, to see if she could come out and play. When she asked her mother, she was told that she could, once the bowl of potatoes in the kitchen was peeled. Her mother armed us both with a kitchen knife, a fairly foreign object to this youngster, parked us in front of the sink on Coke crates, and set off about the house tending to her chores, while we went to work on those potatoes. I looked at this curious instrument and asked my friend "don't y'all have a potato peeler?" She gave me the oddest look and said "potato peeler? What's that?" So I got a very brief demonstration on how to use a knife to peel potatoes and we set out to tackle the project.

We were having the best time, talking and giggling and making a fun time of the kitchen duty, when her mama popped back in. She picked up the peels from the potatoes I had pared, scowled at me with this horribly angry face and promptly began belittling me for the apparently terrible job I was doing. Then she ran me out of her house. I could feel the heat rising up in my cheeks as fast as I could see the horror and embarrassment on my friend's face. I was devastated, and I've never forgotten it to this day. Needless to say we didn't get to play. My friend was embarrassed, I was hurt, and truth is... we never played together again after that.

Something to think about isn't it?

The process of steaming potatoes in butter is very old school, and is what sets these apart from simply boiled potatoes tossed in butter. Try not to freak out too much about the butter in the recipe - I know it's a lot. While the potatoes do get infused with some of the butter while steaming, much of it will be pooled in the bottom of the serving dish, so you won't actually be consuming every ounce of it. Well, unless you wanted to that is.

New potatoes are so tiny, and the skins are delicate and edible, and they really are the best potato for this. I do recommend cutting away a strip around the center so that the butter can infuse right into the meat of the potatoes. You can also prepare this with the smaller red potatoes, but for all other types of potatoes, peel and chop those into bite sized chunks. The peeled, buttered potatoes are especially decadent, because they will absorb a lot more of the butter while they cook.

Many of our mom's probably made these buttered potatoes in some form when we were growing up, I'm guessing primarily because they were easy, filling and delicious. Mama almost always made them tossed with parsley, what we called parslied potatoes, and using whole, peeled and cut up russets like this.

Since big bags of russets are the most economical, those are what I keep on hand much more often and I tend to make them like those pictured above... though I tend to take it a little lighter on the butter myself these days.

Here's how to make them.

Recipe: Butter Steamed New Potatoes

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 2 pounds of new or very small red potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley, loosely packed

Add the butter, water, salt and pepper to a medium saucepan and melt butter over low heat. Meanwhile, scrub the potatoes and peel a strip away from the center of each potato. Add to the saucepan, cover, and cook over low for 25 to 30 minutes. Roll potatoes around in the pan occasionally as they cook, but do not remove cover.

Sprinkle the potatoes with the parsley, toss and transfer to a serving bowl, drizzling the remaining butter from the saucepan over the top. Serve immediately.

New Potatoes in Cream Sauce: Prepare potatoes as above. In a separate saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper. Cook for 1 minute, then slowly whisk in 1-1/2 cups of milk, half and half or a combination. Cook over medium until mixture is bubbly and thickened. Pour over potatoes and serve.

Cook's Notes: New potatoes are tiny, with very thin, delicate skins and are the best potato for this dish. If using larger red potatoes you must cut them into quarters, or they will take too long to cook. May also substitute any other baking potatoes, but peel and cut those into bite sized chunks. Adjust cooking times as needed. Cut potatoes will also absorb more of the butter. May also substitute other herbs at the end; try chives, fresh sage, rosemary, thyme or basil, or use a dried herbes de Provence.


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Posted by on July 23, 2012
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