The first new potatoes are beginning to appear, and for me, they are the best of the year – sweet and waxy, they are such a refreshing change from the less flavourful potatoes that are imported or have been stored over winter.
My very favourite potato of all is the Jersey Royal. Its unique taste comes from the gentle climate and rich fertile soil that is to be found on the island, where often the same families have been growing for generations.
The size of large marbles, they have delicate skins that should never be peeled, as much of their flavour is to be found there. Instead, rinse under cold running water and gently rub between your fingers, removing as much dirt as possible. Then, place into a pot of boiling, well-salted water and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Drain, then stir through with butter and salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Seasonal and versatile, it would be a crime not to take the opportunity to cook with them whenever you can right now.
Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com
Jersey Royals with roasted quail
These sweet young potatoes are good with all roasted meats – I particularly like them with quail, which is a tender bird not too gamey in flavour even though its flesh is quite dark. This dish is most delicious eaten with fingers.
1 bunch marjoram
2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 kg/2lb Jersey Royals, well scrubbed
A knob of unsalted butter
Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Divide the marjoram into four and place in the cavities of the birds. Using your fingers, rub the olive oil into the skin and season generously with salt and pepper. Place the quails on a roasting tray and put on the middle shelf of the oven. Roast for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes using the same method as in the introduction (above). When the potatoes are tender, drain and, while still hot, serve with the quails.
Salad of radicchio, yellow beans, tomatoes and Jersey Royals
This intensely flavoured, vibrantly fresh salad is perfect on its own for a first course or simple lunch, but lately I have been serving it with salt-baked sea bass or with little flakes of sweet white-crab meat laced through. Serve as you see fit, with fillet of beef, any other white fish or as part of a mezze – it works with almost anything.
400g/13oz Jersey Royals, scrubbed and cooked as in Skye's introduction
20 ripe cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
300g/10oz yellow beans
1 bunch of basil, leaves only
The juice of half a lemon
1 head of radicchio, outer leaves removed and shredded into eighth-inch ribbons
3 tbsp olive oil
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Pierce each tomato with a sharp knife and place in a baking tray. Pour over the vinegar and oil, season with salt and pepper, place on the middle shelf of the oven. After 20 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. While the tomatoes are cooking, boil a pot of water and add a good pinch of salt. Add the beans and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain and toss the beans and tomatoes together. Tear in the basil, dress with the lemon juice and toss through the radicchio and the cooked potatoes. Dress with the remaining oil and lemon juice. Season to taste.
Jersey Royals with crème fraîche, tarragon, chives and dill
Whether you are serving beef, fish or eating barbecued meats or a mezze of cold dishes outdoors, a little pot of Jersey Royals placed on the table will be just the accompaniment at this time of year. In other words, this simple recipe is the perfect summery side dish.
1kg/2lb Jersey Royals
30g/1oz unsalted butter
A good pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
250ml/8fl oz crème fraîche
1 bunch of tarragon, leaves only
1 bunch of chives, very finely chopped
1 bunch of dill, finely chopped
Prepare the potatoes as in the introduction. Then, place the crème fraîche into a bowl and stir in the chopped herbs, add a pinch of salt and stir well to combine. Taste and add a little more salt if necessary. Spoon the potatoes into a bowl and dollop the crème fraîche on top. This dish is just as good served warm or at room temperature.Reuse content