You say poe-TAY-toe....I do too.
(if you look hard the 2nd one looks like he is smiling...poor thing doesn't know he's about to be wrapped, skewered & thrown on a grill) Because pa-TAH-toe sounds too fancy. And for something this fresh & straight from the dirt, I think Mother Nature says Poe-TAY-toe too. Stop by any farmers market or grocery store this month and you are bound to stumble upon these adorable little Warba Nugget potatoes.
(I like my potatoes the same as my steak...just a hint of pink) I think there are few things better than a slow food, farm hopping, summer day. And that is just what Mr. sixtyone45, Little and I did this weekend. It finally feels like summer has arrived, and she has brought with her a gorgeous first crop of fresh veggies. I love a winter squash as much as the next girl, but there is something about that first summer harvest that brings about a ton of inspiration. Garlic scapes, pea shoots, colourful lettuce varieties & and the first crop of new baby potatoes.
(we just came back from a place where they shape their rosemary bushes like we do boxwoods. I'm sooo trying that) BCfresh & Food Bloggers of Canada had a challenge looking for new ways to cook with these little potato gems. And as someone who is
totally mildly competitive, this new crop combined with a contest on a new way to cook them, fueled my inspiration. I figured if it tasted delicious I would submit it. If it crashed and burned no one but the guy contractually obligated to test my culinary adventures would have to know.
Spoiler alert...I submitted.
(it wouldn't be a sixtyone45 post without some raw meat making an appearance...enter bacon) I'm still finding my way in the kitchen and I hope I always will be. I do feel as though I am starting to develop a style or point of view. Whether I am flipping through food mags or blogs there seems to be a pattern to what I am drawn to. A set of guiding principals for my little operation. (I'm still working to shake that inner business banker outta me) There are so many amazing ways you could tackle the warba potatoes, I narrowed it down to a list of what was important to me right now. (and if you know me, you know I like lists)
(looks like potato and bacon had a PRETTY good time together on the grill)
1. Local. As much as possible, all the ingredients should be from local farms or markets.
2. Simple. Fresh vegs are already perfect. They sure don't need me to mess 'em up.
3. Grilled. Ovens should be shackled in the summer.
Easy enough right? Oh, and I wanted to smoke something. On the grill.
Quick sidebar. One of the coolest things I saw at the BlogHer Food Conference in Seattle was the chef cold smoking Salmon table side. I had never cooked with smoke before (and liquid smoke kinda freaks me out) so I thought this perfect opportunity to give it a go
So with that list in mind, it came together perfectly.
Smoked BC New Nugget Potato Skewers with Bacon & Rosemary.
(a perfect bite right?) Here's the deets.
I (sorry hun) WE wrapped each nugget with a narrow strip of local Johnston's bacon and secured it with a rosemary twig inserted straight down into the potato. Put three of these nuggets on a skewer and off to a smoke filled grill for a couple hours. Because Little sixtyone45 loves to dip EVERYthing, we served it alongside a sour cream and chive dip.
Really. Really. Really. Very Good.
(meat and potatoes? phuleeze...with taters like that, who needs the meat?) The pleasant surprise here was how much the rosemary twig infused the whole potato. I wrote about the power of toasting dry spices not too long ago, and I am now inspired to try other herb stems in potatoes and veggies. The potato got along beautifully with the smoke (I mean, hey, the smiling potato was still smiling) ...then add rosemary and bacon. It was rich, hearty & flavourful...kinda sounds like a perfect marriage to me.
I also loved how they presented in the end. We don't get too fancy around here most of the time but from the look of things....
... you could probably say pa-TAH-toe if you wanted.
Smoked BC New Nugget Potato Skewers with Bacon & Rosemary
For the skewers
12 BC New Nugget Potatoes (roughly the same size)
3 slices of Johnstons Applewood Smoked Bacon (or bacon of your choice)
12 rosemary sprigs
1/4 cup Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
12 wooden or metal Skewers
For the grill
Hickory or Maplewood Wood Chips (we used a combination of both)
For the dip
1 cup Avalon Organic Sour Cream
2 T. Avalon Organic Heavy Cream
1/3 c. fresh chives
Step One: Prepare wood chips.
Soak the wood chips in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours. If you are using wooden skewers, it would be a great time to soak them with the wood chips.
Step Two: Prepare rosemary.
For each twig, remove the bottom half of the rosemary sprigs. You can do this easily by pinching the twig with your thumb and index finger halfway down the stem and sliding it down. You should have a little "tree" with rosemary on the top half and a bare stem on the bottom half. Set the 12 sprigs aside. Take the rosemary that comes off the twig and place it in a small bowl. Add the olive oil. (this will be for brushing on the potatoes when they are on the grill)
Step Three: Prepare bacon.
Slice the bacon in half horizontally to make two long narrow strips. Cut each narrow strip into about 6 inch strips. Depending on the size of your potatoes this could be a bit longer or shorter. The bacon has to just wrap around the potato once.
Step Four: Prepare potatoes.
Rinse 'em. Slice a thin sliver off the bottom so they sit flat. Not totally necessary but we found they sat better on the grill and the plate this way.
Step Five: Prepare grill
Now is a good time to go get the smoker going. Drain the wood chips and put them in a smoker meant for your grill, or simply wrap them up in a tin foil pouch. Smoker chips go on direct heat, potatoes on indirect. We did our at around 250 - 300 degrees and that worked great. Now back inside...
Step Five: Start assembling.
While grill is heating, take a potato and pierce a hole threw the top with a skewer. Wrap a piece of bacon around the potato. Secure it with a rosemary twig through the hole you just punched in the top. Repeat 12 times. Skewer three potatoes on each skewer. Head over to the grill, put them on indirect heat. Give them all a brush with the rosemary oil. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Close the lid and resist peeking if you can for the first 45 min or so. You lose heat and smoke every time you peek. They are going to take 1.5 hours approx.
Step Six: Prepare Dip
Put the sour cream and heavy cream in a bowl and whip for 3-5 minutes with beaters or a whisk, just to get it nice and fluffy. Stir in finely chopped chives.
Step Seven: Dig in.
The cooking time on the potatoes will vary based on size, type of grill, temperature etc. They should squish in a bit when you squeeze them. You can give everyone a skewer or even slide them off the skewers and plate them all individually. Enjoy!