Fan Potatoes and Family Memories

fan potatoes.jpg

When I was young, I vividly remember my mother preparing fan potatoes.  She did not serve them often.  They were a rare treat.

I can picture in my mind how the potatoes fanned out and how delicious they were: crisp on the outside. soft and buttery on the inside.  The fins of each fan potato created pockets of crispy caramelized deliciousness.  They were simple and perfectly salted.

After I had my own children, I asked my mother for the fan potatoes recipe.  My mother returned my request with a blank stare.

How did she not remember preparing or serving them?  They conjured such fond memories for me.  How could she not recall?  Worse yet, how could she not find the recipe?

Now that I have my own kitchen, I understand.  There are countless recipes that I made for a time and then forgot about.  Some of those for-a-time recipes were even shared with friends and they have found a permanent place in their homes.  How many times does someone mention that they still prepare my cranberry mold or my chocolate mousse cake and I have no recollection of preparing it, serving it or sharing the recipe?

A few years ago, one of my friends shared a cranberry-oatmeal souffle recipe with me.  I later found the same recipe that I had written in my own handwriting thirty years ago!

Despite it all, I was determined to recreate those fan potatoes of my childhood.  It is one those truly simple to wow recipes.  It has become part of my own family’s memory bank…and it is a here-to-stay recipe.

Yields 6-8 servings.

INGREDIENTS

Potatoes, scrubbed or peeled
Kosher or pink Himalayan salt salt
fresh garlic or minced garlic  (optional)
Olive oil or cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

Grease/spray cookie sheet or line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Half potatoes lengthwise. Place potato halves flat side down on cookie sheet.  Cut slits in each potato half starting at the round side but not cutting all the way through to the flat bottom.  If using garlic, coarsely chop and place between potato slits.

Drizzle lightly or spray generously with oil.  Sprinkle salt over the tops of the potatoes.

Roast in the oven for 45-65 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. Potatoes should be golden brown when ready.

NOTES

These fan potatoes are best when eaten right away.  I usually prepare them late Friday afternoon and set them on the counter.  Most of them are devoured before Shabbos even begins.  The few that are left are still delicious for Friday night dinner, served hot.

Potatoes may be peeled or just scrubbed for this recipe.  Scrubbed potatoes will achieve a more rustic looking result, while the peeled potatoes will achieve a more refined result. They are delicious both ways!

Any potatoes may be used, but the results will differ.  Let your taste buds decide which type of potato is your favorite for this recipe.  Higher starch potatoes like Idaho or Russet will yield a firmer and mealier inside texture.  Lower starch potatoes like Red or Yukon Gold will yield a softer and creamier inside texture.

I have also served this recipe as an hors d’oeuvre using small potatoes and interesting toothpicks. It is simply delicious and beautiful both ways!

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