Cornish New Potatoes, Wild Garlic & Capers
Ingredients for a side dish or antipasti:
- Work on a good handful of potatoes per person
- Butter/extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil
- Chopped wild garlic leaves and buds
- Cornish sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Using heavily salted and rapidly boiling water or a steamer, cook the potatoes until paring knife pliant. Drain well and toss immediately in the fat of your choice, the wild garlic, capers and liberal seasoning.
Serve as a rustic communal starter or side dish. The options are endless. Additional ingredients could include; creme fraiche, a mustardy vinaigrette, smoked paprika, chopped black olives, crisp bacon pieces, aromatic soft herbs, saffron...etc. etc. Just about whatever you fancy will go with a sweet, earthy new potato. The perfect backdrop to any number of bigger flavours and a garnish to all meat and fish primary dishes.
On Cornish ‘Earlies’
The new potato of Cornwall is the very first to arrive on the UK scene and they say that the best way to buy them is dirty. The idea is that all that goodness is still locked in until you get them under your own tap to wash away the earth just before cooking.
On wild garlic
Along with the new potato, wild garlic is a sure sign of spring and another West Country ingredient of abundance. In fact, the very place I proposed to my wife was along the banks of the River Fowey at Respryn, on a fine day in April with wild garlic a green blanket covering the entire riverside. Adding colour and a garlic hit that dissipates quickly, wild garlic is a lovely free treat for anyone that goes for a stroll near fresh water in the springtime.
The caper berry and the caper flowering bud are absolute favourites. Adding that sharp hit to any number of dishes, I use it much like seasoning for its salty, picklish hit. Largely a Mediterranean product, a local substitute would be unripe nasturtium seeds. Those pesky things can be put to good use when pickled and have a peppery, flowery depth that capers lack.