New Potatoes Become…What?

In France there is a protocol for the new potato, ie. new potato “rules for life”.  They are harvested 90 days after planting so they aren’t fully mature, and they can legally be called a new potato until July 31. Then, the blush of youth fades and they become…old potatoes?

All the Potential of the Mature Potato

The new potato does have all the potential of the mature potato’s flavor under its skin. This means it is more than average sweet, though not in a sugary sense. But that extra dash of sugar, which will spread itself out as the potato matures, is what grabs the knife when you’re slicing a new potato.  So be a little careful.

Lovely Lilt of Hazelnut

New potatoes offer subtlety of flavor with a lovely lilt that some say resembles the flavor of hazelnut.  Here, they are often covered with salt and roasted, which intensifies their sweetness.  They go on the grill, they go in the “cocotte” in the oven, or they get sprinkled under a chicken as it roasts to be bathed in golden juices.

Why Not an Entire Potato Meal

I like to do many things with the new potato, including simply slathering them with butter. But I wanted to give you some ideas of different things to do, as well as the idea that perhaps you think of preparing an entire new potato meal. If you did that, you’d be channeling Antoine Parmentier, France’s father of the potato, a pharmacist who reputedly fell in love with the potato when he was a prisoner of war in Prussia.  The tuber was as yet unknown in France and when M. Parmentier returned to France he “vulgarized” it, a strange way to say that he made it very popular.

Convincing the Royals

He was so clever in his methods.  He had an inside connection  to Louis XVI and got the leader to wear potato blossoms in his lapel; Marie-Antoinette wove them into her bee-hive hairdo, and Parmentier oversaw a royal banquet that featured potatoes from start to finish.  One final ruse was to plant potatoes in a public garden and guard them heavily during the day, leaving the plants free at night.  The poor and others came and dug up the tubers, cooked them, fell in love with them and voila! The potato became popular.

Jewel in the Crown

And the new potato is the jewel in the potato crown, in my opinion.  It’s a fleeting jewel, so use it often and use it well! Bon Appétit!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *