Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Laurel-infused smoky potato supper

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)
Serves 2

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.


Alanna Kellogg said...

So are the Jersey Royals the "third best" potatoes? The first of course from Estonia and hmm ... what was the name of that other country nearby? ;-) (I've got new potatoes awaiting SOMETHING and so visited yesterday to see the back-n-forth between you and Antti.)

Anonymous said...

Excellent thinking. Nice and simple, like I always say, often makes for the best meals.

A similar potato and bay play is to make a gratin from potatos, smoked makerel, and bay leaves. Not a summer dish, though.

Ilva said...

It warms my heart to see that you use my recipes! Thanks Pille! And I love Paris, how nice to go there now...

Manne said...

Oooh! That looks and sounds lovely. Definitely making that next week. Funny, about two months ago I made my first ever visit to Paris as well. Aside from the time when I was 18, interrailing through Europe and had about 45 minutes to do Paris while changing trains... Doesn't really count. ;) Went to the restaurant Dans Noir, the restaurant where blind people serve and you eat in a dark room. Food wasn't great, but what an intriguing experience.

Anonymous said...

Yum, yum, yum!


x said...

hi Pille! hope you had fun in Paris.
i am going to skip the bacon but i'd like to try the rest. we use lots of bay leaves in lentil soup, but i don't think i have ever tried them with potatoes.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a fabulous idea for Jersey Royals! It's in season - i'm yet to post it on my site... since i live in Jersey, and all! lol.

Thanks for the recipe.

Pille said...

Alanna - you're cheeky - but oh-so-right:)

W7 - thanks for the tip - considering the weather up here in Scotland has got somewhat (khmm) chilly again, then maybe I could try your recommendation after all?

Ilva - what's not to love about your recipes?! And yes, Paris was beautiful - just like I imagined..

Manne - somehow I was sure I'm one of the last to visit Paris:) If you do give this dish a go, please let me know what you thought of it! My friend wanted to go to Dans Noir, but I had read very mixed reviews about their London counterpart, so this time we skipped it. Maybe another time..

Paz - thanks!

Chloe - I did:) I still have lots of bay leaves left, so I might try some lentil soup with them! Looking forward to seeing you (and Tülin) in Athens in June!

Mae - you're welcome. And now that you've blogged about Jersey beef, you should write about those spuds now:)

Manne said...

Tried this today, absolutely fabulous. :) So quick and easy to make and so incredibly tasty. Thanks for the recipe, this may well become a regular treat.

Pille said...

Manne - thanks for the feedback - pleased to hear you liked it!