A supporting player steals the limelight from entree

Entertaining

Cumin and onions propel potatoes from side dish to dinnertime's star

Entertaining

March 16, 2003|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Special to the Sun

One cold evening last month, my husband and I had a quick weeknight meal at a small bistro where I ordered pan-sauteed pork tenderloin served with cumin-scented potatoes. The little garnish of diced potatoes cooked with onions and seasoned with cumin seeds was so good that I would have killed for seconds. When I asked our waitress to tell me how the latter had been prepared, she willingly gave some guidelines.

That simple dish stayed in my mind for several days, and this past week when it came time to plan a dinner party menu in honor of a house guest, I was determined to re-create the cumin-scented spuds.

After several attempts, I came close to the original. I boiled diced Yukon Golds in water until tender. Next, I sauteed chopped onions in butter and oil until softened, then added the potatoes to the pan, tossing the two vegetables together until both were golden. A sprinkling of cumin seeds, salt and pepper completed the dish.

I served the cumin-flavored hash browns as an accompaniment to salmon and baby spinach. When the plates were cleared there wasn't a potato left on any. A thank-you note arrived a few days after the dinner, and the writer ended with a plea for the recipe for those remarkable potatoes.

Distributed by Tribune Media Services International.

Potatoes Sauteed With Onions and Cumin

Serves 4

salt

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus extra if needed

2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided, plus extra if needed

1 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon kosher salt

black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley, optional

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes and cook until tender but not mushy, 10 minutes or longer. Remove and drain well. Pat dry. (Potatoes can be cooked 2 hours ahead. Cover and leave at room temperature.)

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot. Cook onion, stirring until softened and light golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil and when hot, add potatoes.

Cook, stirring often, until potatoes and onions are golden, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, 10 to 15 minutes. (If the potatoes start to burn, add extra butter and oil in equal amounts to pan.) Sprinkle cumin seeds, salt and several grindings of pepper over potatoes, and cook and stir a minute more. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

Mound potatoes in a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

Note: Although this dish is best made and served immediately, it can be prepared in advance. Leave the sauteed potatoes and onions in the pan at cool room temperature for up to 2 hours. Reheat over medium heat, stirring, until hot.

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