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Spud Sunday: Simple Spuds

Roasted potatoes with bay leaf

Simple as they come:
potatoes roasted with a bit of inner bay leaf

I was struck lately by the seemingly relentless drive to label the recipes found in many cookbooks and (their often accompanying) cookery programmes as “simple” and “fast” – from Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers and Simple Cooking to Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals, and a whole host of others in between. They all, in one way or another, address the perception that, as a race, we 21st century consumers have less and less time to cook and less and less of the kitchen skills required but, ironically, more and more time to watch cookery on TV.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for simple and fast, and I have been known to watch my fair share of television cookery – but if, perhaps, there were more books and programmes that stepped back from recipes and concentrated on teaching skills and techniques, that might actually make things simpler and faster for us in the long run.

Roast Potatoes With Bay Leaves

Roasted baby potatoes with bay leaves

If simple’s what you want, then simple is what you’ll get with these spuds.

A couple of weeks back, I received a tweet from my good fried Jenni about “a tater thing” she’d made – namely a potato baked with bay leaf. It was, she declared, really, really good, an endorsement which placed it firmly on my must-make list. It also reminded me of a recipe in Eveleen Coyle’s Irish Potato Cookbook for roast potatoes with bay leaves which I’d been meaning to try. So finally, today, I did just that.

What you see below is Eveleen’s recipe, more or less, but the essence of it – and the technique that you need to remember – is that you cut a slit in a potato, insert a bay leaf and then roast or bake it, just as Jenni did. Simple, yes, and really, really good.

You’ll need:

  • 800g baby potatoes (or any small, evenly-sized potatoes)
  • salt, for parboiling the potatoes
  • 2 tblsp olive oil (or substitute rapeseed oil)
  • bay leaves, one for each potato
  • coarse salt

You’ll also need:

  • A roasting tin large enough to fit the potatoes in a single layer

The Steps:

  • Preheat your oven to 200C
  • Scrub the potatoes and leave them unpeeled.
  • Bring a pot of about 1.5l water to the boil, add 2 tsp salt and the potatoes. Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, covered, for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow them to dry off and cool slightly.
  • Add your oil to the roasting tin and place in the oven to heat.
  • Cut a slit in each potato and insert a bay leaf.
  • Remove your tin from the oven and toss the potatoes with the hot oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt and return to the oven. Roast for 35-45 minutes, until tender and browned. These are lovely on their own with some salt and butter or serve alongside any kind of roast meat – Eveleen Coyle notes that they are particularly good with game.

The Variations:

  • Instead of roasting the potatoes in oil, you could do like Jenni did, and bake them without oil but with a little butter added into the slit along with the bay leaf.

The Results:

  • This serves 3-4 as a side-dish

6 Comments

  1. Hooray for potatoes w/bay! So pleased I could share a Fun Thing with you and that you enjoyed it as well, DS! :)

    And, I agree–sometimes “fast” is overrated. But simple is always welcome!

  2. Daily Spud

    Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Hooray indeed Jenni, it’s the best kind of sharing there is :)

  3. I already knew bay leafs go so well with potatoes & this dish will be a real winner too! :)

    Another grand & easy recipe of you! :)

  4. Daily Spud

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks Sophie! I guess it’s not that I didn’t know that bay leaves went well with potatoes, but I just never thought to stick an actual bay leaf into a spud before roasting. I’ll know in future, though :)

  5. going to try these out today…maybe impress the in-laws…

  6. Daily Spud

    Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Hey there Richy, hope all is well with you and Joanna! I hope the in-laws will be suitably impressed with the spuds :)

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