Apparently good day care has always been a problem, even for ancient Greek gods. The story goes that King Lycurgus is with his gang of Seven Heroes, on the way to Thebes, when he stops in Nemea for water. The nanny of his infant son, Opheltes, leaves the baby all alone and a dragon comes along and slays the baby (or else a serpent, depends on who you believe). The baby’s blood pools on the ground and up springs the first parsley. The nanny was never heard from again.
Parsley needs a partner to bring out all its potential, and garlic and potatoes just seem to be great companions. Here are two recipes to play with, just remember to finely chop your parsley leaves. Big hunks of parsley leaves aren’t the least bit appetizing. Get out your big chopping knife, and using only the leaves, smush them up into a tight ball and thinly slice the ball of leaves. Discard the stems or see below for goofy garnish trick. Start doing the fine chopping by using the tip of the knife as the pivot point on your chopping block and begin chop, chop, chopping away. It becomes soothing in a mindless sort of way. When I was in cooking school in Italy, the boys would all get into little contests to see who could chop their parsley the finest and the quickest. Boys do love to play with their knives.
Small to medium red potatoes works best
Butter or Olive Oil
Salt to taste
Pierce the potatoes and roast them on the oven rack (not in a pan). If you forget to pierce the potato, take a photo of the interior of your oven and I promise to post photos with full credit. Roast at 350F/180C for about 40 or until the potato feels soft to the touch.
Meanwhile: finely chop the parsley and garlic, adding a little olive oil to the mix so the parsley won’t discolor.
When the potatoes have cooled enough that you can handle them, carefully slice them in half and scoop out the innards. Try not to put any holes in the skin, but scoop as close to the skin as possible.
Keeping the potato shell open and bowl shaped, put them back into the oven for about 10 minutes or until you have a crispy, crunchy shell.
Meanwhile: Puree the potatoes, parsley and garlic adding either some butter or olive oil. Both work, both taste good. You want a smooth, rich mashed potato consistency.
Put the stuffed potatoes back into the oven to make everything hot again. You should figure on everyone eating at least 1 to 1 ½ potatoes. These just disappear.
You can use this technique for all sorts of variations…parmigiana, caviar and sour cream, truffles. It’s all good.
Small red potatoes or Yukon golds work well
Butter, Parsley, Garlic, Salt
Cut the potatoes in half and boil them in salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them because you don’t want mush. They should be cooked, but not falling apart.
Meanwhile: Finely chop the parsley leaves with some garlic and lay the mixture in a flat plate.
When the spuds are done, drain them and press the cut ends of the potatoes into the parsley/garlic mixture.
In a heavy bottomed frying pan, melt the butter and let it sizzle until it turns light brown and smells divine. The smell of brown butter just makes you salivate; there is nothing that can be done about it. Place the parsley-ed cut ends of the potatoes into the brown butter and cook until the potato edges get a little brownage. Sprinkle with coarse salt before serving.
Goofy garnish trick if you have nothing else to do: Take the parsley stems and with a very thin blade, slit the stems and place in cold water. They get all curly and you can use them as a garnish. You need to be seriously bored before this seems like entertainment.
And a final word of warning: transplanting parsley brings bad luck. And should you be a young maiden who transplants parsley you will most certainly be an early widow.