Smashed new potatoes with coriander seeds and bay
This is a steal from Tom Hunt, a former River Cottage colleague of mine, now cooking at the excellent Poco in Bristol. Waxy spuds are simmered with garlic and bay leaves to perfume them, then ‘smashed’ to form nicely crisp-able pieces, before being roasted hard with more aromatics.
1kg large-ish new potatoes, or waxy salad potatoes, scrubbed or scraped but left whole
6 bay leaves, torn
6 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
2 tsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed
Sea salt and black pepper
Put the potatoes, bay leaves and whole garlic cloves into a large saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until tender.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6.
Drain the potatoes, garlic and bay in a colander and leave them there for 5 minutes or so, to steam-dry.
Meanwhile, put the oil into a large, shallow roasting tray – large enough to hold the potatoes in one layer, ideally with a little space between them here and there – and put it in the oven to heat up.
You now need to ‘smash’ the potatoes. Tip them back into their hot pan (bay leaves and garlic too) and use a heavy pestle, the end of a rolling pin or a potato masher to hit them gently, breaking them up but not crushing them completely. You want large, rough chunks of potato, with a few smaller bits of spud shrapnel here and there (not mash).
When the oil in the roasting tray is hot, take it from the oven and tip the smashed potatoes, bay and garlic into it. Add the crushed coriander seeds, season with salt and pepper and toss the potatoes in the hot oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden. Serve hot.
Roots A mix of half spuds and half parsnips is a great variation.
Spices Replace the coriander with cumin seeds and/or a pinch of dried chilli flakes for a slightly warmer flavour.