New Potatoes: Simple Pleasures
Early summer is always hotly anticipated with the arrival of strawberries and asparagus. But this is also the time to enjoy the humble new potatoes. Served simply boiled, with cold butter on the side for mashing in, new potatoes are a real delicacy. And there are so many different varieties, each with their own special flavour.
The early new potatoes that come from Ayrshire are some of the best in Britain. The cream of the crop is the epicure variety, the original and best Ayrshire potato. The flesh is brilliant white with a silky texture. What could be better with some poached Scottish salmon?
The French have so many wonderful waxy varieties too. An old favourite and one of the best is the Ratte, a fingerling variety with a creamy flesh. It almost has a nutty flavour.One of the beautiful things about very fresh new potatoes is how the delicate skin comes away so easily. Of course there is no need to peel a new potato, especially when the skin has so much flavour. However if they are long in shape like the Ratte, it is easy and they look so pretty in a bowl scattered with chopped parsley or chives.
To Cook the Perfect Boiled Potato
Put the potatoes in cold water, with a very generous handful of sea salt. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Bringing them to the boil from cold water helps them to cook evenly. Reduce to a simmer when the water reaches boiling point. Depending on the variety and size, cook for anything between 10 and 20 minutes, or until they can be pierced easily with a sharp knife. Drain the potatoes. Let them dry out in the residual heat of the pan. Leave them for 5 – 10 minutes before eating as the texture is better and you can actually taste the flavour of the potato.
Another nice thing you can do is to drizzle them with a little white wine vinegar once they are drained. The potatoes soak all the vinegar up, giving them a nice flavour.