We were in a very excellent wine bar one night in Milan where we had this very simple dish of boiled potatoes with a splash of vincotto and pieces of stracchino – a delicious, slightly sour, soft fresh curd-like cheese – sitting on top. So simple and delicious and speaks to my special passion for potatoes. In all their forms, they're glorious, however there is a special place in my heart for a golden crispy version, matched with chewy fried garlic cloves and some rosemary and my happiness is complete.
- 700 g desiree potatoes, cut into large chunks with the skin left on
- 2 small heads of garlic
- 3 sprigs of rosemary, cut in half
- 250 g stracchino, at room temperature
- drizzle of olive oil
- lots of river salt and black pepper
- vegetable oil, for shallow frying
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Place your potatoes in a large pot covered with a generous amount of cold water and a good amount of salt. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about half an hour or until your potatoes are nicely soft and cooked. Drain off the water and leave the potatoes in a colander to give rid of any extra water.
Break up your garlic heads and give each clove a soft bash with the side of your knife, you want the skin broken but still attached. It’s important to make sure each clove gets treated properly, as whole cloves left in their skin tend to explode in oil.
In a large heavy-based pan, add about 3-4 cm of oil and heat to about 180°C. You may need to do this in batches as you want to make sure there’s only a single layer of potatoes cooking in the pan at one time. Gently lower your potatoes into the oil, crushing them slightly with your hand as you go. Once the potatoes are in and frying, give them a minute and then add the garlic. At this stage, use a spoon to give the ingredients lots of nice turns, you want everything to become golden and fried. Just before you think it’s time to take the potatoes out, throw in the rosemary spigs for a minute.
Pull out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Once all your potatoes are cooked, season heavily with salt and use lots of black pepper.
Place your potatoes, garlic and rosemary in a shallow bowl, break of chunks of stracchino and place all over the top before completing with a good drizzle of vincotto.
• Vincotto is a handy thing to have sitting around. It’s made from unfermented grape must and is thick and slightly sweet with a little tang. It can be found in specialty Italian grocers or you could substitute with a thick aged balsamic. Stracchino can be a little hard to come by, though if you go to a good Italian cheese shop they should have it. Alternately, substitute with quark or any other slightly sour soft curd-like cheese.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd. Dyed leather by Shibori Textiles.