Who doesn’t love a roast potato?
Now any potato turned through some fat and seasoned well is a glorious thing, but how can we get even more flavour into our potatoes?
Squashing the potatoes increases the surface area giving us a better covering of crispy edged goodness. Not only do we increase the crunch but the cracks and fissures that appear on the edge of the potato sucks up all the seasoned butter, drawing all of the flavour to the centre of the potato.
If that hasn’t sold you on squashing your potatoes then let us entice you with a good whack of garlic, a fine smattering of lemon zest and a herbaceous hit of sage or ground ivy if you know of some growing nearby.
Ground ivy is a great wild partner to potatoes as at this time of year, they are much more reminiscent of sage. They become lighter in flavour as the new growth comes in during the spring but still an excellent match as they become slightly minty.
Make sure to let your potatoes cool down so that you don’t burn the palms of your hands when it comes to squashing them. The best potatoes to use are new potatoes from a floury variety as they hold their shape well when boiled in their skin and have a nice fluffy centre once cooked.
New potatoes are good for this recipe as you want them to be almost bite sized once cooked. You could of course use larger potatoes but you will have to increase the boiling time drastically and slow down the frying process once squashed.
16-20 new potatoes each, from a floury variety (Jersey Royals are also great when in season)
Knob of butter
Drizzle of rapeseed oil
4-5 sprigs of sage or a good handful of ground ivy
4 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper
Wash the potatoes and place into a pan of cold water. Season the water well with salt and bring to the boil, simmer until tender.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes from the water and set aside to cool slightly. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, use the palm of your hand to squash them so that they are flat. Do this gently so the potato stays mostly intact, some of them will break apart but that’s fine too.
Heat the skillet over the embers, drizzle in the oil and throw in the knob of butter. Once the butter is melted gently place the potatoes, sage and garlic into the pan. Season well with salt and pepper. When the potatoes turn golden, gently turn them over and continue to cook. Add another knob of butter and allow to melt in between all the potatoes.
The potatoes should only need another five or so minutes. When the potatoes are golden and crisp on the edges, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Finely chop the ground ivy (if using) and scatter into the pan along with the lemon to finish.
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Before you set off there are a few foraging guidelines to keep in mind to avoid any injury to yourself or the natural habitats you encounter.
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Always forage small amounts for personal use, leaving adequate produce for animals and insects to indulge on, as well as other foragers!
IF IN DOUBT, LEAVE IT OUT.
Only eat something if you are 100% sure of its identification, as some plants can make you unwell, or worse still – some are even deadly. Books are very helpful for this; one of our favourites is ‘Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland‘, ‘Food for Free‘ and ‘The Forager’s Handbook‘. Websites and social media groups can also be helpful, but make sure you trust the source entirely before you eat your finds
PICK FROM PLENTIFUL PLANTS
Only forage from plants that have produced plenty of fruit as the plant depends on this to reproduce.
WATCH YOUR STEP
Choose carefully how you access your foraging finds. Avoid crushing plants and habitats underfoot whilst hunting for wild foods.
LEAVE ROOM FOR RE-GROWTH
Avoid taking too much twig and never uproot a plant so that it is always able to regrow after you have foraged from it.
Your foraging kit should include – a small legal carry knife or secateurs, gloves to protect your hands from plants that may sting (the humble nettle) and thorns, and a basket/container or three. Don’t forget to wear long trousers and long-sleeved tops to protect your arms and legs from natural nasties such as ticks (find out more about ticks here.)
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