Potatoes are one of the world’s most adaptable ingredients, and perfect for sequential cooking. This is an original recipe for a boiled then grilled potato side dish. The charcoal flame brings a unique taste element to the potato, as potatoes are normally never grilled.
My recipe also calls for candied bacon. This sweet treat is simply bacon broiled or seared with plenty of brown sugar. Talk about smack your lips tantalizing (and the perfect treat for pets and/or humans). And to take this to the next level, because there are already not enough, copious amounts of browned nutty butter with shallots and peas tie this blazing sequentially cooked potato dish together. It is a playful companion for your next grill-out and goes with just about any protein imaginable.
Multistep cooking is so hot: boiling and then grilling
Sometimes, preparing an ingredient with one cooking method is not enough. There are just those days we crave the complex and the congratulate dishes with depth. The Iron Chefs are famous for employing elaborate cooking sequences, such as first steaming an ingredient, then searing it, and finishing it in a smoker. Such multi-step methods of cooking impart such flavor and intricacy that is normally not found in straightforward cooking. The smoked and braised short ribs from Tre Vigne in Napa Valley immediately comes to my mind.
Grilling potatoes is not a commonplace dish, but it should be. First preparing the potatoes by boiling them in salted and buttered water helps cook them 80% through. Then finishing them on a hot grill to get not only the grill and char marks, but that smoky flavor is delicious. The idea of adding candied bacon was inspired simply by the notion that candied bacon is good in everything. Oddly enough, the fire smoke taste of the grilled potatoes with the brown sugar glazed bacon was simply divine (and plenty of browned butter also helped).
Recipe for the boiled and grilled potatoes with candied bacon
Ingredients (serves 6):
- 20 small potatoes, halved (eg fingerlings, red bliss, etc)
- 5 strips of bacon
- Handful of full (not light) brown sugar
- 1/4 to 1/2 knob of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 stems of scallions, diced
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh green peas, blanched in buttered water
- Dash of white wine vinegar
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
First bring a pot of water up to a boil. Season it with plenty of salt and some butter. Throw in the halved potatoes to the pot and keep a watchful eye. It will take some time for these potatoes to cook, but do not overcook them or allow them to become too soft and mushy.
In the meantime, prepare the candied bacon. You can do this one of two ways. Using a rack and a broiler, you can sprinkle a generous amount of brown sugar on both sides of the bacon strips, and then pop them into the broiler. Or you can sear the brown sugar bathed bacon on a saute pan. The former is a tad bit healthier and allows the bacon to keep its shape better. I prefer the later, as I just enjoy to cook more on the stovetop, although the melted brown sugar may require elbow grease to remove when cleaning.
When the potatoes are about 80% cooked (and can be judged by piercing in a fork and/or eating), remove them immediately from the hot buttered water. Allow to slightly cool and bring them over to the grill. Add a bit of olive oil to help the potatoes from sticking to the grill. Over the hot grill, place the potatoes flesh side down and allow them to char up. I like to place these directly on the grill, no tin foil barrier here. This will take 5 minutes at the most. When the grilled marks are evident, flip over the potatoes and allow all the sides to char and then remove.
Prepare the butter in a large saute pan over low heat. Allow it to brown, which takes a few minutes. Add the shallot and garlic to the pan. After a minute or two of allowing these to saute in the pan, add the grilled potatoes, diced candied bacon, green peas and a bit more butter and olive oil. Fold the ingredients together to get it coated in the browned butter and then taste. The potatoes will likely require a generous, and I mean generous, helping of salt (and a little pepper). Add the scallions and a bit of white wine vinegar (less than a thimble), re-season if necessary, and serve immediately with the rest of your cooked-out dinner.