Garlic and Lemon Braised Potatoes
Alright. Deep breath. Our 24, 24, 24 posts are almost at an end. Whew! Here I thought it took me a long time to craft all that food, but writing about it puts those food preparation hours into an endearingly quaint perspective. I just keep telling myself, “One more, Tina. One more post….and you’ll be writing about PIE.” Somehow the thought of pie always makes me feel just that much better. I think that Old Augusten got it wrong. The correct mantra would have been, “Without darkness there would be no light. And without hunger, there would be no pie.” Just saying.
Potatoes are a nice stand-by in my house. After all, they’re so versatile that the main limitation is your imagination. I’m a fiend for root vegetables, but the flexibility of potatoes will always have me coming back for more. Baked, fried, boiled, mashed, roasted or braised, I think the spud is a total stud. These garlic and lemon braised potatoes are incredibly easy, flavorful, and I can’t get enough of the texture. Barely firm exterior protecting the fluffy soft inside, these potatoes have it made.
The potatoes that my Lebanese Tata used to make with her roast chicken were along these lines – garlic, lemon and paprika, with not much else. Holy HANDBASKETS were they delicious. I might think of these as Lebanese in flavor, but they’re a kissing cousin to the delicious lemony roasted/braised potatoes that you get in a Greek restaurant, or Patata Bravas which is one of my favorite Spanish tapas meals. We’re just talking about a rustic dish with few ingredients, simple cooking, and a deliciously familiar taste.
Garlic and Lemon Braised Potatoes
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
- 3.5 lb Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1.5 kg, or 8 large potatoes)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp paprika *
- 1.5 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1.5 lemons
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 cup chicken stock **
- salt and pepper to taste
* If you have smoked paprika it makes an excellent substitution.
** To make this dish vegan you can use a vegetable stock in lieu of the chicken stock.
Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Or, if you’re cooking the potatoes at the same time as a delightful roast chicken, just put them in at the same time and temperature and don’t fuss or bother with doing anything differently. Being as lazy as the day is long, of course this is my preferred method.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters.
In a large (9×13″) casserole dish, dollop in your tomato paste, olive oil, stock and spices. Squeeze in the juice of your lemon and a half.
I have a rather depressing habit of sending people home with leftovers in the containers they were made in, which means that I’ll be damned if I know where my 6×6″ square baking tray, 4L Dutch oven, and 9×13″ glass casserole dish are. Or my 6 oz ramekins. Or my large wooden salad bowl. I don’t know why I don’t just take the extra step to complete packing things up in the untamed mountain of tupperware we have beneath the sink, but I have two (equally awful) theories on this:
1) As the hostess who quite enjoys drinking too much wine during dinner, at that point in the night it just doesn’t seem worth it to fight my way through hordes of empty containers trying to find one, JUST ONE lid that fits. Note: you know the sock monster that lives inside your washing machine? His sneaky cousin Pete lives under the sink and steals all of your viable Ziplock tupperware lids, replacing them with off-brand that you’ve never heard of.
2) Maybe it’s a hidden desire to get rid of my old cookware so that I can buy new, BETTER things. Except that I don’t, I just slowly erode the stock that I have and hope that The Casserole Fairy will take mercy on my soul and replenish my cupboards one night as I sleep.
All that to say, I used a metal baking dish. Such is life.
Peel and coarsely chop the garlic cloves. You don’t need to be too meticulous here because the garlic will actually start to melt into the sauce a bit. If every now and then you find a chunk of sweet braised garlic on your plate just consider yourself lucky.
Add the garlic to the stock mixture and whisk it until it’s combined. Add in your potatoes and toss them around so that they’re evenly coated in the flavorful juice. Season rather liberally with salt and pepper. Hey, potatoes like salt. It’s a fact. Don’t go over the top just yet though, because your stock might be a bit saline when it boils down.
Leave the potatoes uncovered and tuck them into the lower third of your oven (or, as some might say, “The rack below the chicken”). After about 20 minutes you’ll want to give the potatoes a toss so that whatever was exposed to the air is now snuggled up in the reduced juices. Repeat the tossing after another 20 minutes, because this is insurance that the potatoes will braise evenly.
Let the potatoes continue to cook for about another 20-30 minutes (just over 1 hour total) and give them another stir when you take them out. By this point, most of the liquid will have been absorbed and a quick toss will actually glaze the potatoes in whatever is left. Taste a potato and season again with salt and pepper if necessary. If your oven tends to run on the cool side, while your entree is resting you can cover the potatoes in foil and leave them in the oven for that additional 10 minutes.
Our braised potatoes were served on the side of crispy skinned spiced garlic and lemon roast chicken and a simple, bright chopped salad. This is a great take on your traditional roast potatoes which find there way regularly into the rotation as a Sunday dinner side dish, and they’re equally good clustered around a flavorful pot roast or vegetarian entree.
These potatoes are pure garlicky, lemony goodness. The bright lemon actually gets set off by the tart tang of tomato, and the oregano adds that extra herbal hit which you know potatoes adore. Or maybe that’s just me, because oregano is certainly something that *I* adore. This isn’t an elegant side dish, it’s about as rustic as you could ask for – but isn’t that what comfort cooking is all about? Duck fat pommes frites are great and all that, but a simple familiar side dish (that happens to cost less than $0.50 per serving) with just a bit of ethnic flair is pretty grand as well.