I don’t suppose it’s down to my influence necessarily, but a friend, the other day, did remark on how it seemed that everyone was now jumping on the potato bandwagon. You could certainly be forgiven for thinking as much based on coverage this week alone, where, hot on the heels of my own newspaper piece last week, we had Irish chef (and new dad) Neven Maguire featuring potatoes in general, and Tayto crisps in particular, on this week’s episode of his Home Chef series on RTE televison. And then, in his latest series on Channel 4, Heston Blumenthal, too, turned his gloriously scientific attention, this week, to the potato (you may be able to catch said episode of How To Cook Like Heston for a limited time here on Channel 4’s 4OD service). Triple cooked chips and Heston’s mashed spud perfection were followed by the lesser known delights of smoked potato doughnuts and potato milk jam – the latter a recipe that was right up there with the spud shake in the unusual (and, for some, challenging) spud recipes league. In other words, it had my name written all over it.
Heston’s Potato Milk Jam
When it comes to potatoes, I’ll try anything once, and that includes Heston Blumenthal’s potato milk jam.
As Heston’s recipe over on the Channel 4 website explains, milk jam is better known as dulce de leche (it certainly sounds better when you call it that too). It’s also better described, not as a jam, but as a kind of caramel sauce, one that is, in this case, flavoured with potato skins (I realise at this point that many of you will – perhaps understandably – have run for the hills; for those who are still tuned this way, your reward will be sticky and very sweet).
The recipe – which involves cooking roasted or baked potato skins with milk and sugar for a couple of hours – is utterly simple; the mental leap required to get past the use of potato in something dessert-like is, for many people, considerably harder. I will admit that even I was hedging my bets on this one, quartering Heston’s original recipe so as not to end up with a truckload of sauce that (shock, horror) I might not want to use.
I needn’t have worried – though it is unusual and has an earthy undertone you don’t expect to find in a caramel sauce – I’ll find excuses to use it alright. Heston says to use it as a sweet dip or on toast. I say use it on potato pancakes (perhaps with a bit of melted butter) or, given how well potato and apple work together, try it with some apple tart and vanilla ice cream.
Regarding the recipe itself, the Channel 4 website calls for the skins of some baked potatoes, while on the TV show, Heston used potato skins roasted in some oil and salt. You can use either – with the plain baked potato skin which I used, I did find that I needed to add a little salt to the sauce at the end to temper the potato flavour.
- Skin from a medium-sized baked potato
- 235g demerara sugar
- 215ml whole milk
- pinch of salt
You’ll also need:
- As I was making a fairly small amount, I used a small heavy saucepan (about 18cm) for this – for the original recipe (with ingredients above x4), Heston recommends using a wide-bottomed pan.
- I would recommend that you remove as much potato flesh as possible from your potato skins before using them here. Apart from anything else, the potato flesh can result in a certain graininess of texture in the final result. Needless to remark, you can use the scooped out potato flesh from your baked potato for any number of things.
- Place the sugar, milk and potato skins into your pan and place over a medium-low heat (I heated the mixture enough to bring to a gentle simmer and then kept the heat low enough to just maintain that).
- Cook for about 2 hours, stirring regularly and removing any foam that collects on the surface of the liquid throughout cooking. The mixture should reduce considerably and turn a rich brown colour. The original recipe says that it should gain a thick, spread-like consistency but, really, it’ll be a little more liquid than your average jam – certainly the version Heston made looked that way – though it will thicken somewhat on cooling.
- Strain the mixture and add a small pinch of salt to taste. Allow to cool and, if not using straight away, reserve in a container in the fridge covered with cling film touching the surface.
- Makes around 100ml of sauce or jam, depending on what you want to call it.