I got lucky last weekend;) In addition to spending a wonderful long weekend in Paris in a very charming company (my first time in town - more about it later), I also - finally - managed to get hold of a large bunch of fresh laurel or bay leaves (again, my first time ever - and for just 1 Euro @ Bastille market). Laurus nobilis may not be a particularly romantic 'souvenir' to bring back from la Ville Lumière, but I had been reading about using fresh bay leaves in many foodblogs, and had been wanting to cook with them for a while. I squeezed the bay leaves (and wild asparagus) into my weekend bag and was jotting down various recipe ideas while flying back from Paris to Edinburgh.
My dinner last night, as has happened before, was inspired by lovely Italian-Swedish Ilva of the Lucullian Delights. Her recipe for Patate, piselli e pancetta con alloro/Potatoes, peas and smoked pork with bay leaves caught my eye a while ago, and refused to leave my culinary mind. I had a packet of fabulous Jersey Royals (alias, some pretty good new potatoes from Jersey island, which is the southernmost part of the British Isles at just 14 miles from the French coast) in my fridge, and I used these to prepare yet another Ilva-inspired dish last night. It was most delicious - I think bay-leave infused smoky bacon could prove a new favourite of mine.
New potatoes and smoked bacon with fresh bay leaves
(Varajased kartulid suitsupeekoni ja loorberiga)
500 grams of Jersey Royal new potatoes, washed and slighty scrubbed
1 Tbsp olive oil
125 grams chopped pancetta or other smoked bacon
1 large garlic clove
4 fresh bay leaves, ripped into smaller pieces
Maldon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Put the potatoes in a pot of fresh cold water, adding some salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are done. Drain thoroughly and cut into halves or quarters, depending on the size.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan, add the whole garlic clove, pancetta cubes and bay leave pieces. Fry on a medium heat, stirring regularly, until the pancetta is browned. Remove the garlic clove, if you wish.
Add potato chunks and stir gently, until potatoes are heated through and covered in the bay-scented olive oil.
Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and serve.