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Move over roast potatoes; a new kid’s in town, the braised potato! Sounds exciting, I know, probably not so much. But trust me, friends, these potatoes will convince you otherwise. They are cooked to perfection, make their own little gravy, and the roasted garlic is oh so delicious.
They are perfect for a large or small group, can be made ahead and reheated and are fail-proof. They go with anything because I have kept the flavor profile to a minimum for that reason specifically. Kind of like a one size fits all sweater (sorry it is Black Friday, and I’m clearly thinking other thoughts).
I make these with new potatoes so that I don’t have to peel them. I also choose small potatoes so that I don’t have to cut them. Are you sensing a kind of laziness here, you are right. It’s a side dish, not brain surgery! Keep it simple, you will thank me later.
A few little tips to note.
I buy fresh bay leaves, not the dried leaves in the spice aisle. The fresh leaves are usually found where you find the fresh herbs in the clamshell containers. Obviously, you are not going to use all 30 or 40 leaves they give you. So you take the remaining (most) leaves and throw them in the freezer. I always have a good little stash of frozen bay leaves, lime leaves, curry leaves, and an assortment of chili peppers in one bag. It makes me happy (and the one size cashmere sweater I’m still thinking of).
Braising refers to a slow, moist cooking style or method that involves a certain amount of liquid that usually comes about ⅓rd the way of the hero of choice (potatoes in this case). It is typically a cooking method saved for tough cuts of meat, but it works quite nicely for the potato as well. For this method of cooking, braising, a lid is always required. The magic happens when the liquid boils, and the steam reaches the underside of the pot lid and then drips via condensation into the hero (yes, the potatoes), which then tenderizes the food. Also, braising will make any mundane food look and taste incredible, making YOU look like a hero!
Braised Potatoes with Garlic and Bay Leaves
- 1½ pounds small new potatoes scrubbed
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 cup water or chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves fresh if you can find them
- 4 garlic cloves peeled and bruised
- salt and pepper
- If the potatoes are larger than golf balls, cut them in half.
- Place the potatoes in a saucepan large enough to hold them in a snug single layer without crowding. Add the olive oil and pour in enough water or stock to come ⅓rd way up the sides of the potatoes (between 1-2 cups, it all depends on the size of your pot and the size of the potato). Tear the bay leaves in half and add them along with the garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover and bring to simmer over medium heat. When the liquid is simmering, lower the heat to medium-low so the liquid simmers gently. Braise, lifting the lid and turning the potatoes with a spoon, once, halfway through, until the potatoes are just tender, about 20 mins.
- To finish, remove the lid and increase heat to high. Boil, gently shaking the pan back and forth, until the water evaporates and you can hear oil sizzle, about 5-8 mins. The braised garlic cloves will break down and coat the potatoes as you shake the pan. When everything seems to be sticking to the pan, add a few Tbs. of water and using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan. All the stuff at the bottom will lift and coat the potatoes and add so much flavor.
- Serve hot.