Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Birthday Dinner: Course 2, Death by Butter Poached Potatoes

Upon celebrating another year of life, I have discovered my choice ‘death’: butter poached potatoes.   I have already notified the SPIKE TV show, 1000 Ways to Die, that I will pioneer drowning in butter.  My margarine-mongering compatriots always told me that rampant use of butter would clog my arteries.  Admittedly, most people’s heart would stop just looking at the recipe and reading: “three sticks of butter”.  Yet, you are not really eating three sticks of butter; you are eating potatoes that were boiled (i.e. poached) in it.  So, just as you do not drink all of the starchy water when you boil pasta, you won’t consume all the butter you used to poach potatoes.   
 I think of the poaching process like a potato spa.  The spuds soak in a gentle bubble bath of fragrant wine and shallots, while simultaneously being massaged with melted butter.  They emerge moist and tender, with delicately crinkled skin.  Because they are not greasy or dry on the inside, they lightly dissolve in your mouth like starchy snowflakes.  Butter poached potatoes offer infinitely more flavor than a bland baked potato, and are much more decadent than your fast-food French fries.  Pair with rare steak or lamb for an impressive dinner sprawl.  

We have made the dish several times.  Each time, we (and our guests) have been enraptured with the unique taste and texture, and pleasantly not weighed down by the heaviness that often accompanies potatoes.  Out of necessity, we used red wine this time, however I would stick to the white wine in the future.  Butter poached potatoes are perfect for a dinner party or date – probably a bit too much cooking for your grab-and-go dinner before work. 

Butter Poached Potatoes
1 stick butter, salted
1 shallot, diced
¼ cup dry white wine
2 T white wine vinegar  
2 stick butter, unsalted
1 bag of fingerling potatoes, sliced

1.       In large saucepot, melt 1 T of butter. 
2.       Add shallots; simmer for about 3-5 minutes.
3.       Deglaze shallots with white wine and wine vinegar.
4.       Whisk in butter, 1 T at a time, while continuously stirring. Keep butter very hot, but not boiling.  
5.       Add in potatoes, cover.  Keep eye on temperature so that butter does not separate while cooking.  Be careful not to burn the potatoes or the butter.
6.       Cook potatoes for 20-30 minutes, or until fork tender.

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