April 28, 2014

Jamie Oliver's Roast Potatoes


House hunter, house hunter, find me a match, the perfect one for me, like on T.V...Finding the right place is hard, especially when you are moving about 700 km away to a new city. After living in London, Ontario for so long, it is finally time to move on to something--and somewhere--bigger and better. That place is Ottawa, Ontario. 

Last weekend I was able to answer one of those hypothetical questions you always ask yourself when watching house hunting shows: would you rather have a nice, big house with a yard that is far out of town or compact, downtown digs right in the middle of the action? I have to say, I surprised myself. After a jam-packed weekend of house hunting, we picked a nice townhouse in Centretown smack dab in the middle of downtown and I am ecstatic. When you're visiting a city to scope it out, you also have to scope out the neighbourhood food options. Seeing apartments, houses and everything in between works up an appetite. 

Union 613 Ottawa

On Friday night, we ate at the somewhat obscure, but cozy Oz Kafe that had some of the best service I have experienced in a long time. After a 6 hour drive, we enjoyed a nice late night bite of D.I.Y tofu mushroom lettuce wraps and edamame tossed in sea salt and butter. I could see myself sitting here for hours with the dim lights, trendy beats and sweet sangria--which is exactly what we did.  

The next night, the destination of choice was Union 613 where we feasted on a Southern-style meal in the hippest, and hipster-ist, place I have ever been to, and I have been to Portland. Picture a place where the menus are made of burlap, the drinks are served in mason jars and all of the tables are large and communal. It is the optimal place to sip on a craft beer, take an Instagram of your meal and chow down on delicacies such as hog jowl and pig ear salad. After a complimentary bowl of boiled peanuts (surprisingly tasty), I ordered the Louisana Catfish with roasted broccoli and garlic crumbs. Mike had the beef flank steak with a heavenly cornbread soaked in bourbon brown butter. The food was served on a tray with a piece of wax paper. It's like I should think this place is pretentious and overdone, yet I still loved everything about it. So far, I like what this city has to offer. 

Rustic wedding sign

I am making it sound like it was a relaxing weekend when nothing could be further from the truth. After looking at 5 possible future homes, we drove back to London and had enough time to finish some wedding projects and make Easter dinner. So what does all this have to do with Jamie Oliver? That man makes a mean roast potato. His Christmas special has been taped on my parent's PVR for years and I needed something to elevate the huge bag of mini potatoes I bought for Easter dinner. 

These potatoes are a mix between smashed, mashed and roasted. They are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and will satisfy even the most devoted mashed potato lover such as myself. First, wash the potatoes in the cold water and then place them in a pot of salted water to boil. Boil for about 6-7 minutes, drain and let air dry for a few minutes. Tip them into a pan and place them in the oven at 375F with a touch of olive oil for about 20 minutes. I also like to keep the potato peels on for a bit of extra crunch.  

Jamie Oliver's perfect roast potato

In the video, Jamie says you can use olive oil, butter or goose fat for the main fat. I chose the "healthier" option with olive oil. Next time I might try butter for a richer flavour. I am glad I had some wonderful infused olive oil straight from Florida that I received as a gift. Having good ingredients also helps to make a solid side dish. The ingredients are self explanatory. The fun comes in mixing up which combinations of fat, herbs and seasonings.

Infused olive oil

With the olive oil, Jamie used rosemary and garlic; for the goose fat, he used thyme and garlic; and with the butter, he used sage and clementine zest. I added the olive oil, herbs, garlic and a dash of vinegar to a small bowl and mixed it together with my hands. 

Olive oil and garlic

The vital step is to take the potatoes out after about 20 minutes and slightly mash them with a potato masher. Just press down on the potatoes ever so gently and don't completely mash them. Then drizzle the seasonings and oil over the top and mix everything together. Put the potatoes back in the oven for about 40 minutes.

I loved the texture of these potatoes and the delicate mixture between crispy, light and fluffy. The garlic roasted perfectly well with no mushy pieces. Like Jamie says, you can never make too many potatoes; they will always get eaten. I think it would be neat to make three dishes with the three different flavours and have people choose their favourite. 

Roast Potato 
A hearty meal that reminds me of home always works to settle my stress. It's also nice to have a sense of normalcy before packing all of your things in boxes, moving to a strange place and settling into a new chapter.

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