This is the recipe to which we were referring on Wednesday when we said that we had plans for those little new potatoes. Yes, we’re making caramel potatoes. And yes, they’re made with real caramel — like candy — but we’re making everything ourselves. (As an aside, although we doubt that anyone would try it, we don’t think you can use caramel pieces that you buy at a store. Of course, once you see the recipe, you’ll realize that there would be no time or effort saved, anyway.)
We found this recipe in Scandinavian Christmas, by Trine Hahnemann, but we’ll admit to modifying it a little to make it easier to make the caramel, and we hit the potatoes up with just a touch of kosher salt at the end. We also scaled it down, but feel free to scale it back up if you’re making this dish for Christmas dinner.
There are two salts listed; the first is for the salted water used for boiling the potatoes, and we just use table salt. Then, there is kosher salt for finishing. We like kosher for the flakes; it provides a slight salty crunch. For the potatoes, use small new potatoes that are good for boiling. Finally, we use unsalted butter; the original recipe called for salted, but we think it’s better to have the kosher salt added at the end. Besides, we never have salted butter in the house — too salty.
Procedure in detail:
Boil potatoes. Trim off any bad spots and place the potatoes in a saucepan with cold salted water over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the potatoes simmer until fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size.
Peel. Place the pan under running water to cool the potatoes. When cool enough to handle, peel, placing the peeled potatoes into a bowl of cold water. You can keep the peeled potatoes in the water in the refrigerator for several hours, if needed.
Melt sugar. In a heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat, combine sugar and 2 tablespoons of water, swirling the pan around to mix. Continue heating, swirling the pan, only once or twice, if needed, until the mixture begins to boil. Do not stir. Just so you know, the water helps the sugar melt, and stirring can cause the sugar to re-crystallize and seize up. And we can tell you from experience that it will happen in an instant, making your hard work all for naught.
Let caramelize. Let the sugar water boil, without stirring, until it starts turning a nice golden color, about 15 minutes.
Add butter. Add the chunks of butter and swirl the pan to combine. Let the caramel cook, swirling occasionally if needed, until it’s lightly browned and looks like melted caramel (which it is, of course), 10 minutes.
Add potatoes. Drain potatoes and place them, carefully, into the caramel sauce, turning to coat.
Cook. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let the potatoes cook about 30 to 35 minutes, turning every few minutes to ensure that they’re evenly coated with caramel sauce.
Serve. Plate and sprinkle with a couple of pinches of kosher salt.
You might not think that potatoes and caramel would be a good combination, but it works. The slight sweetness of the caramel is offset by the starchiness of the potato and that bit of kosher salt. Now, we probably wouldn’t want to eat these every day, but this recipe is well worth breaking out for those special occasions, as it will surprise people who haven’t had them before. We’ll say four stars.