I love potatoes. There, I’ve said it. Baked, mashed, Gratin, Dauphinoise, fried, boiled, new, salad, all of them. I’ve never met a potato I don’t like. Despite that, I know very little about them, such a staple of my diet as a child growing up in the 80’s when we probably had them at least 4 times a week but arguably going out of fashion in recent years owing to a decreasing popularity of carb-related foods.
Last week I headed off to a Clerkenwell and Food at 52 for an evening of correcting my lack of knowledge with a closer look at the humble Jersey Royal in the company of Jimmy Doherty from Jimmy’s Farm and a delicious Jersey-and-potato themed menu.
Known as Jersey Royals, these small, almost salad potatoes have been grown on the island for 130 years and are typically harvested between March and July following an outdoor crop planting between January and April. We were fortunate enough to eat some delicious potatoes which had been planted in January and were so fresh out of the ground they still had an authentic coating of island soil.
The Jersey Royals website provides comprehensive information about the production of the potatoes and the care and dedication which goes into each and every crop: The Jersey soil is light and well drained and many farmers still use seaweed harvested from Jersey beaches as a natural fertilizer (it is known locally as Vraic). Jersey has some of the most formidable tidal flows in the world, and the strong movement of the sea deposits large quantities of vraic on the shore. The practice of using vraic on the land dates back to the 12th century.
And despite what most people think about potatoes, Jersey Royals are a fantastic source of Vitamins B, C and fibre, all of which are important for a healthy diet and lifestyle. Jimmy is passionate about raising awareness of this humble foodstuff, noted as our favourite new potato and distinguishable by it’s delicate, flaky skin and works closely with the farming and production in Jersey. We were treated to an absolute feast at Food at 52 showcasing the incredible versatility of these small, nutty staples.
On the menu for our delectation were the following mouthwatering dishes:
Jersey Royal dipping platter with chive crème fraiche, chimichurri sauce and basil pesto, accompanied with a very welcome G&T (teeny potato decoration!)
Jersey Royals spring frittata with pea shoot and mint salad
Jersey Royals cheese, onion and sausage pastes with quick tomato jam
Jersey Royal rosemary skewers
Simply Jersey Royals (boiled) with butter and mint
The food was nothing short of out of this world proving that the days of just boiling potatoes until they fell apart a-la-1980’s are a thing of the past. Accompanied by wine and Jersey Apple Press Cloudy Apple Juice and finished off with three types of cheese, apple calva AND fudge produced on the island, I wasn’t joking when I said I’d need someone to roll me home. It’s a long time since I’ve eaten so much in one sitting but it was more than worth it.
We were also give a portion of Jersey potatoes to take home and try out Jimmy’s Jersey Royal Salt ‘n’ Vinegar Herb Shake in a Bag and here’s what you need to do if you’d like to have a go:
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes
750g Jersey Royal new potatoes, scrubbed (not peeled) and cut in half (which I just realised I forgot to do!)
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 stems of rosemary, 1 stem leaves finely chopped
2 stems of thyme, 1 stem leaves finely chopped
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp pure sea salt flakes
1 x 37cm x 20cm parchment paper cooking bag
1 length of butcher’s twine or string
Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan
Put the Jersey Royals in the parchment bag or make a bag out of a double thickness of parchment paper measuring 37cm x 20cm. Fold three sides over, sealing each side with a little beaten egg brushed onto the edge before folding. Leave one side open. Drizzle the potatoes with the oil, vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper
Scrunch the top of the bag and tie securely with the twine, or seal once more using the beaten egg before folding. Leave plenty of space around the Jersey Royals
Shake the bag vigorously to ensure the potatoes are well covered in the oil, vinegar and herbs
Place the bag in a roasting tray and roast for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the Jersey Royals. Carefully, pierce the bag to release the steam, then tear open and serve at the table in the parchment bag.
We served ours with some salmon and a dill/creme fraiche sauce – perfect!
Thank you so much to Food at 52 and Jimmy’s Farm for inviting me to attend this event. All words, opinions and images are my own unless otherwise stated.
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