Last weekend, my husband was smoking a huge pork butt on the smoker. Before the quarantine, he would use the smoker or barbecue at least once or twice a month, but now, with more free time on his hands, we get treated to some delicious meat a little more often. In between the hours he was waiting and monitoring the pork, he came up with this simple and yet delicious side dish.
I am definitely the person who cooks most often in our house, however, when my husband gets into the kitchen, he has a lot more patience and creativity than me. His breakfast and lunch always looks better than mine. He will take the few more minutes that I can’t bother with to add whatever ingredient or component to make the meal complete. I work a little faster, with less patience.
I had no plans for these baby potatoes I bought earlier in the week, they just looked so nice in the local vegetable store and I knew about the barbecue coming up. I am not a huge potato gal, however, my husband is at heart a meat and potatoes man. He was born and raised in Nova Scotia, and for a few years in his youth, he lived with a family with 7 children who owned and operated a potato farm in the Annapolis valley and worked for them. Needless to say, they’ve made and eaten potatoes probably a thousand different ways.
After we married, the farm was still in existence for about another 5 years. When we would go back to visit family, we always made a trip over to “Bunk and Nan’s” where the hub of work and activity was and where you could find a lot of the family during working hours.
The big meal of the day, as it is on most farms, was at noon and what they called dinner. We would go over to the farm mid-morning to find Nan, a tiny woman in her 70’s maneuvering around the kitchen like a boss. Nan was famous for her bread, always had potatoes at the dinner table, and could pull together a full turkey dinner for the noon meal. They don’t make them like that anymore. I loved watching her work.
She had 3 fridges, 5 freezers, 2 microwaves, 2 wood stoves, and a convection oven. She didn’t have a container for flour, she had a drawer, that’s how much bread she was cranking out. She was always trying to trick her family into eating raisins by putting them in anything she could (sadly, as raisin haters do, they were spotted, removed, and left in a pile on the table). Now that Nan is 90 and not cooking anymore, her beautiful baking pans aren’t being wasted (food bloggers would appreciate this). They were distributed to her numerous children and grandchildren and are still being used to this day.
How she got food ready for, depending on the season, 6-10 hungry workers every day and made it interesting, nourishing, and delicious, was beyond me. Usually by Wednesday, I’m out of ideas.
The workers would come in around noon tired, hungry, and dirty. There was always meat, bread, and potatoes on the table. It was a world I wasn’t used to. I’m a city girl, where most people aren’t even home at the noon hour. My mom was always changing things up and we often never had the same meal twice. Frankly, I enjoyed the thought that consistency here was part of life. Kind of like how families have their pizza Friday or Spaghetti Sunday. Those kinds of traditions are comforting and are what memories are made of.
When we married, I certainly did not make enough potatoes for my husband. He may have mentioned it once or twice. I started to make less pasta
so he wouldn’t leave me but usually, when potatoes are involved, I leave it to him. I haven’t made mashed potatoes since he made his version many years ago. He has the muscle but more importantly the know how to make them perfect every time.
So was I surprised when last weekend he came up with something new for the humble potato? Nope. It was so good we raved about it almost more than the pulled pork (which caused some insecurity over his barbecue skills).
They’re super easy and pack a punch which is a normal taste around here where I live. A little spice into everything is the order of the day in Mexico. I always have a couple small cans of these chipotles in adobo sauce in my pantry, I even put them in my mayo to give it a kick. The rest of the chipotles that you don’t use can be kept in the fridge in a sealed container. I don’t know if Nan would like the spice, but she would have been proud of our dinner that night: meat, potatoes, and fresh bread.
Love you Nan, and all your people who are now my people.
- 3 lbs baby potatoes, cleaned
- 1 head garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 TAB chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. (We like doing this in a wok so we can easily take out the smaller potatoes that may be ready first). When water is boiling, add potatoes. Par boil for about 15 minutes, they should float to the top. Drain and cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 375. On the top of each potatoes, with a knife, make 2 or 3 lines through the potato, ensuring that you do not cut more than halfway through (not necessary, but helps the mixture stay on the potatoes). Combine garlic, chipotle, olive oil, and basil in a bowl and stir to combine.
In a large roasting pan, gently combine potatoes with sauce. Try not to mash potatoes as you combine. Put into oven. After 15 minutes, gently stir, ensuring garlic isn’t burning. Cook another 15 minutes (or longer if your garlic is okay and you like crunchier potatoes). Remove from oven and serve.