Chef Kristen Kish has won the hearts and palates of America, whether leading the kitchen in Boston or battling it out on Top Chef. Her unique style of cooking and relationship with innovative flavors has earned her accolades of all kinds, and her new cookbook is a testament to a hard-earned career. Try Kish’s braised baby potatoes for a brand-new spin on a plain old spud.
I’m always looking for new ways to cook potatoes, those favorite little sponges for flavor and salt. We fry, mash, sauté, purée, roast — so why not braise? Surround them with a flavorful liquid and let them drink it up. The skins hold on to that wonderfully salty liquid, and the meat of the potato remains light, soft, and creamy.
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 4 ounces pancetta, cut into a small dice
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 pounds small new potatoes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 8 fresh sage leaves
- 2 cups vegetable stock, homemade or store-bought
- 3 ounces watercress
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 3 ounces comté cheese, finely grated
For the potatoes
In a wide saucepan — you want the potatoes to lie in one layer — heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until it begins to crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the butter and heat until it melts and begins to sizzle. Continue to fry the pancetta in the fat for 2 minutes.
Add the potatoes and, when they begin to brown on one side, roll them in the fat to brown as much of the outside as possible. Season with salt but be careful: potatoes need a fair amount of seasoning, but the pancetta is salty. Grind in some black pepper; I like a lot for this dish. Push the thyme and sage into the bottom of the pan in between the potatoes to brown and crisp these up, too.
Once everything is beautiful and golden, add just enough vegetable stock to come halfway to three-fourths of the way up the potatoes. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and allow the liquid to boil and evaporate until the fat is left and you hear a sizzling sound; this signals everything is re-crisping. Cook until crisp and golden, which could take 12 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, dress the watercress with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and the vinegar; season with salt.
To serve: Spoon the potatoes onto a platter, sprinkle the cheese on top, and garnish with the watercress salad.