Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bourbon Potatoes

I get a real kick out of making something interesting out of otherwise boring leftovers. It's a few days after St. Patrick's day, so I have plenty of leftover small boiled potatoes sitting around. I also have a bottle of good bourbon. I don't need much else to make what's becoming one of my favorite leftover transformations- Bourbon Potatoes.

The idea is simple, Take your leftover boiled potatoes, cook them in a small pan until they get a nice golden brown crust, and deglaze the pan with a little bourbon. Of course, you should only use a bourbon that you think tastes great too. My current poison of choice is Maker's Mark, and I've had excellent results with Jack Daniel's (even if it's technically Tennessee Whiskey rather than bourbon)- but go with whatever you like best if you have a particular preference.

Your leftover potatoes should already be fully cooked- boiled ones seem to work best- especially if they were cooked together with other flavorful ingredients, like say... corned beef and cabbage... You'll want to cut them into chunks (if you have large potatoes) or just cut them in half (if you have small potatoes)- you'll want part of the flesh exposed- these parts will brown up and form a nice crust when you reheat them.

Start a small pan over medium-high heat with a little bit of butter or olive oil. Place the potatoes in, cut side down and sear them until the fleshy part of the potatoes are golden brown. Flip them and brown any other sections of exposed flesh, then get out your bourbon. You can add as much as you like, but I would urge caution. I prefer a splash or two- maybe a half of a shot glass to a full shot glass for a large batch.

Turn the heat up a little right before you add your bourbon so you can be sure to cook off the alcohol quickly, then quickly pour in the bourbon. The bourbon will flash boil, and steam out the alcohol- if you are quick enough, and using a gas stove, you can tip the pan into the flame, and get the vaporized bourbon to ignite- it will flare high in the blink of an eye, so make sure you're not leaning over the pan, or you may lose an eyebrow. Don't worry, the flash will only last a second or two. As the flame ignites, shake the pan to move the potatoes around, and keep shaking until all the bourbon appears to have dried out.

Yes, much of it has evaporated and burned off- but the flavor compounds and the complex sugars in the bourbon remain. The potatoes soak up the residual liquids quickly and become infused with that sweet/woody bourbon flavor, without the bite of the now burned off alcohol. Once you get past the big column of flame, you're done, plate and enjoy. The potatoes gain texture and a whole lot of flavor- and their aroma is something you'll really enjoy. They go well with most any meat, but are quite good on their own. It's a great way to show off to your guests when you ignite them, and it turns dull boiled leftovers into something memorable with a minimum of effort.

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