Perhaps it is the weather, but all the recipes I have been cooking recently have been caught in the seasonal no man’s land between Winter and Spring. Cooking and eating are as much about a sensitivity as they are a rational thought process, and I think staring out at a London skyline shrouded in mist has made me seek out dishes that are full of springy greenery, but can’t quite shed their winter layers.
This recipe is a perfect example; it celebrates the recent arrival of new potatoes (the first ones arrived in my local greengrocer this week, and are delightfully tiny, like muddy pebbles) and purple sprouting broccoli, but clings on to the wintry blood orange. It nods to the logical part of my brain that knows it should be time to eat salads and fresh greens, but also speaks to the part of my belly that wants warm comforting food to compensate for the gloom outside the kitchen window.
It’s hard to go wrong with new potatoes. I think they are one of the things we truly excel at growing on these islands, and like so many of our vegetables they shine when accompanied with plenty of salt and good butter. For me they are associated with home cooking, fresh out the garden and always boiled in a pot with bay leaves, and an occasional sprig of rosemary. The simplest ways are the best, but crushed new potatoes are perhaps just as satisfying. They make a great side for any roast dinner, and this dish in particular is a perfect alternative to the potato salads of late summer. I’d urge you to make this now, as blood oranges will become hard to find in the next fortnight. You can easily use a substitute, and even simple lemons will pair perfectly in terms of flavour, but you will lose the slight bitterness and wonderful colour
Two tips for cooking new potatoes: always put them in a pan of cold water, and bring it to a boil (rather than putting them straight into already boiling water), and boil them with plenty of salt. Potatoes are very porous and this is really the best way to season them.
600g new potatoes (halve any larger ones)
300g purple sprouting broccoli
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic (leave the skin on)
150g crème fraîche
The zest and juice of 2 blood oranges
Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, until they are easily pierced with a knife.
Trim the broccoli ends, and cut any large pieces in half lengthways.
Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon (leaving the pan on the heat) and cover them to keep warm. Cook the broccoli in the potato water for 3 or 4 minutes, until just tender. Drain off the water and leave the broccoli to steam dry.
Find two frying pans that fit easily inside the other and heat the olive oil in the larger one. Bash the garlic cloves and add them to the hot oil, then remove the garlic to one side. Put the potatoes in the pan and cover them with the smaller one so they are crushed as they cook.
Cook them for about 25 minutes, turning them two or three times throughout the cooking process, and pressing them down with the back of a spoon to help them split
Alternatively, cook them at 220’C in your oven, bashing them with a potato masher halfway through cooking.
While they are cooking mix the crème fraîche with the blood orange zest and juice, and season with a little salt and pepper.
Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan, then chop roughly.
Once the potatoes are crisp, remove them to a serving bowl and add the broccoli and garlic back to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until the broccoli crisps a little at the edges, then add it to the potatoes.
Top with the blood orange crème fraîche and mix a little. Scatter the chopped hazelnuts on top and serve.
Recipe taken from Anna Jones’ ‘The Modern Cook’s Year’