History says that potatoes are a poor man’s food, but even in their simplest form, I believe they’re the true definition of comfort – regardless of how much is in your bank account . They can be made a thousand different ways, across hundreds of cultures, and with slight twists that turn them into luxury.
As I’ve been cooking my way through The Clever Cookbook, written by my talented friend Emilie, I’ve fallen in love with her genius way of making flavorful fingerling potatoes, using an almost magical garlic-herb compound butter (which now resides in my refrigerator at all times, just waiting to turn pantry staples into something incredible). I love to make them as a side dish to these Sweet and Spicy Ribs.
Emilie’s beautiful blog, The Clever Carrot, captured me several years ago. Her recipes are wholesome and tasteful, with a nod towards health and importance of sharing meals with her family. I love her approach to cooking, mixing seasonal ingredients and fresh flavors with tips and strategies that give you the ability to fit homemade meals into a busy life. I appreciate that so much, because even though I don’t have kids, my days can get a bit chaotic. And to tell you the truth, after cooking and photographing for much of the day, sometimes the last thing I want to do is have to reinvent the wheel for dinner, or a snack.
In the book you’ll find basics that you can make ahead of time, then use them to turn simple ingredients into weeknight masterpieces. Take for instance her Triple Duty Chicken Stock becoming One Pot Creamy Orzo with Asparagus, Basic Tomato Sauce leading the way to 20 minute Skillet Baked Shrimp & Feta, and a Crumble Topping that can be used for fruits of all seasons.
And infused butter – also known as compound butter, like this Garlic-Herb version that transforms fingerling potatoes into the ultimate comfort dish. It’s a brilliant shortcut.
Emilie instructs you to “steam” the potatoes on the stovetop with the butter and a bit of water (also known as braising), which works incredibly well to infuse them while their insides cook until perfectly tender and creamy. (Don’t roast the potatoes even if you’re tempted!) I altered the recipe just a bit in terms of technique, cutting the potatoes in half and steaming them, then searing in a cast-iron skillet when they were cooked through to get that tempting golden brown crust. If you’re pressed for time and don’t want to bother with cutting & searing, you can certainly leave them whole and cook them in the butter until you can pierce with a fork. Just know that this will take a bit longer for them to cook, but it will be “hands off” time.
After making this dish a few times, I’ve put it into my “crowd-pleasing recipe” arsenal because literally, as soon as I mention the word garlic butter & potatoes in the same sentence, ears quickly perk up. They’re incredible, the perfect side dish, and you can even turn them into a lovely vegetarian breakfast with a soft-boiled egg.