Finding the perfect side dish

Entertaining

Skewered potatoes are both simple and very popular

Entertaining

October 20, 2002|By Betty Rosbottom | By Betty Rosbottom,Special to the Sun

Planning the menu for a recent dinner party in honor of two friends visiting for the weekend, I found myself in a quandary about the vegetables for my fall menu. I had decided on a cream of carrot soup to begin the meal and had picked as the entree lemon-scented chicken breasts rubbed with crushed fennel seeds, and the dessert -- homemade caramel ice cream drizzled with warm chocolate sauce -- was an easy choice.

But finding interesting side dishes to go with the chicken was a challenge. By mid-autumn the array of summer vegetables had disappeared from the markets, so I had to be inventive with what was available.

Eventually, I decided on skewered red skin potatoes cooked on the grill and blanched green beans garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese. The potatoes turned out to be one of the most popular offerings of the evening and could not have been simpler to prepare. I parboiled baby red skin potatoes in their skins before tossing them in a mixture of olive oil, mustard, minced garlic and chopped fresh rosemary. The potatoes were then skewered and set aside until dinner time. Just before the meal, I prepared a grill and cooked the potatoes several minutes until lightly charred. Served skewered, the red skins made a distinctive and delicious garnish to the sauteed chicken, but they would be equally good as an accompaniment to broiled lamb chops, grilled steaks, or pan-fried pork chops.

Since that autumn dinner party, I've also used the skewered red skins as a side dish with baked salmon and roasted chicken. In the unlikely event that there are any leftover potatoes, they could be tossed in a vinaigrette dressing and served as a salad.

Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services.

Skewered Rosemary Red Skins

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 1/2 pounds small (1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter) red skin potatoes

kosher salt

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 medium cloves garlic, peeled

2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

6 to 8 long metal or wooden skewers (see Note)

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Scrub potatoes but do not peel. Halve potatoes and add to boiling water. Cook until tender but not mushy, 10 to 12 minutes. Test potatoes with sharp knife to see if they are done. Remove and drain in colander. Cool potatoes 10 minutes. Place olive oil, mustard, garlic, chopped rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in large bowl and whisk well to combine. Add cooked potatoes and toss well to coat. Taste a potato and season with more salt and pepper if desired.

Skewer potatoes with cut sides up on metal or wooden skewers. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for up to 4 hours. When ready to cook, oil grill rack and arrange 4 to 5 inches from heat source. Prepare grill. When ready, add skewers and cook, turning several times until browned well, about 10 minutes or longer. Remove and arrange on serving platter.

Note: If using wooden skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes before using.

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