March is Tater Time

Sherrel Jones celebrates March with fresh potatoes.
BY SHERREL JONES Published: March 7, 2012
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It's almost potato time whether you are a gardener or a cook who loves them. My grandmother swore by planting potatoes by or on St. Patrick's Day for the best crop. Then she also said potatoes loved tomatoes so the seed potatoes always went in the ground where tomatoes grew the year before.

My mother loved new potatoes particularly the little ones fresh dug, scrubbed and boiled in their jackets. They were served literally swimming in our fresh churned butter. She claimed to prefer them to birthday cake as we were starting to dig the little ones by her end of May birthday.

Now I look for ways to just enjoy that new potato taste highlighted without swimming in the butter but that delightful flavor when these little guys are cooked with their skin intact. I remember taking such pleasure in finding and scrubbing the dirt away from the tiniest potatoes for cooking. I felt as if these little ones grew just for me.

This has been and interesting year for potatoes watching new varieties appear in markets throughout the year, and several have been from local sources. These ever present root crops are distinguished by different colors, shapes and sizes. I found some great sweet potatoes recently at the Urban Agrarian Market in Oklahoma City. They have been quite good perhaps made a little better by the fact they were grown by Acadian Family Farm near Fort Cobb Lake.

Fingerling potatoes have been flavor-packed and so easy to roast or steam. I love it when the potato itself doesn't need much butter or salt to taste wonderful. Split these little fingers lengthwise a couple of times and you have a ready-to-go batch for frying or roasting. These make great smashers as well.

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‘Little Smashers' Potatoes

Ingredients

12 new or fingerling potatoes (adjust number for size) scrubbed clean

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, sage, dill or thyme (leaves only, chopped or sliced to enhance flavor if desired)

Directions

Scrub potatoes and clean out prominent eyes or spots on potatoes if needed. Leave skin intact. Place potatoes in heavy sauce pan with lid and ½ to ¾ inch of water. Bring to boil, cover then simmer over lowest heat until potatoes soften (15 to 20 minutes). Alternatively, micro-cook potatoes on high until soft 2-3 minutes. Remove carefully to avoid burns.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with oven rack arranged at mid level. Arrange potatoes 2 to 3 inches apart on silicone mat, parchment or buttered baking sheet. Smash potatoes down to ½-inch thickness. Drizzle all with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Prepare herbs accordingly and distribute them over the smashers.

Bake on middle rack for 15 minutes or a little longer if you want the outside edges of the potato to crisp up leaving the inside soft and yummy.

Source: Sherrel Jones

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