Our potato of the month is the gorgeously purple heirloom potato, Vitelotte – also known as Truffle Potato or Chinese Truffle. On digging up it has a lovely rich trufflish skin although you can see the glossy purple shades, once it’s washed. Oddly enough, the cooking water is turquoise, if you boil them.
You can use it as a regular potato, but quite honestly, it makes stunning crisps and chips and worth using just for that.
Plus, Vitelotte has quite a chestnutty flavour which lends itself very well to being snacked on and dipped into savoury sauces…giving a bit of ballast to creamy or spicy flavours. The flavour is not dissimilar to Pink Fir Apple, but a little more on the savoury side.
This potato is massively popular in France and there are tons of recipes using purple potatoes, but less well known for some reason over this side of the Channel. Time that changed, we think!
These particular Vitelottes are grown, as all our delicious heirlooms are, at Morghew Park Estate on the Kent/Sussex border overseen by the cool and efficient Nicki Crawley.
Vitelotte CrispsWash the potatoes and dry well making sure all moisture is dabbed off, for the fluffiest chip.
Thinly slice the required amount of potatoes – 500g per 4 portions – we quite like this waffle pattern above (Youmiam.com).Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.Heat a chip pan to 160 degrees. Cook in batches for 4 mins, taking care not to overcook.Drain well on kitchen paper then serve.
Purple potatoes also lend themselves well to potato salads – try this stunning salad with Blue Cheese, Pancetta and Tomatoes for a variation on a traditional Italian tricolore.
More for your salad and barbecue season (it’s National Barbecue Week this week) is the pretty Vitelotte and Radish salad – making the most of the green/purple contrast from the chopped spring onions!
A warmer recipe is this Tarte Tatin of Smoked Duck Breast and Vitelotte. NB: When Nick is cooking meat recipes and we don’t have time to source specialist ingredients then we tend to poach chicken with our smoked sea salt and this provides a snapshot of the flavour…Also, online we found a number of variations of this using Camembert and Smoked Ham or even a Dutch version using ricotta cheese and golden beetroot, which looks delicious. It’s a shame that these images don’t look as appetising in pictures as they do in the flesh.
As warmer meals are always needed at hand, another good find from the treasure troves of French recipe archives is the Hâchis parmentier. This is similar in many ways to Shepherd’s Pie – ie. basically meat topped with potato, but the pretty colours of the gratin and potato make it quite special for a weekday dish. Plus the flavour of Vitelotte can stand up well to meaty flavours making this quite a full-flavoured dish.
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