I googled "Hazel potatoes" in the hope of finding a definitive answer to why they are so named. What a shock I got when no relevant pages were returned! It's as if they never existed. And yet I've been making them since the '80s.
What is a Hazel potato, you ask? It's a small, unpeeled potato (or one that been cut into two or three pieces) that's been tossed in oil, given some flavouring (even if it's only a bit of salt and pepper), then roasted in an oven pan with a spoon or two of water that helps to steam them as they cook. I think they are best eaten lukewarm or at room temperature. To be fair, they are a little like an overly virtuous distant cousin to a proper roast potato. Perhaps that's why they died out?
Let's talk about possible flavourings. I have three go-to combinations I use. Rosemary and garlic; thyme, lemon, and garlic; and the riskiest - an all purpose seasoning from Jamaica that happens to include MSG (monosodium glutamate). Today, fool that I am, I'm going to try to make all three of them in the same pan. Remember to use salt and pepper as well!
As for why I think they were called Hazel potatoes, because the "Hazel" part was always capitalized, I think this was someone called Hazel's preferred method of cooking. By the by, the best batch I ever made was when I was forced to turn off the oven at the 50 minute mark and leave them inside while I attended to something else for a few hours. When I came back, they were barely lukewarm and utterly delicious!
Makes enough for 4.
750g new potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
flavourings of your choice
2 tablespoons of water
If you are planning to use garlic as part of the flavouring, instead of crushing or grating the garlic, whisk it with the oil then let it sit for a while to let the flavours infuse. This way you'll avoid the unpleasant metallic taste of burnt garlic on your finished potatoes.
Wash and dry the potatoes, then cut them into 2- or 3-bite pieces.
Place them in a bowl and strain the garlic oil over them. Discard the garlic. Give them a good stir to coat in oil.
If not using garlic, simply coat the pieces in the oil.
Place them in a single layer on a baking tray and coat them with the flavour of your choosing, as well as a good sprinkling of pepper and salt. Turn them round so they get and even coating. Carefully add two tablespoons of water and pop them into a preheated oven, 200ºC.
Turn them after 25 minutes and pop them back into the oven for another 25 - 30 minutes or so until they are perfectly done and soft to the bite.
Any questions? You can use the comments form at the bottom of the page.
Did you know?
You'll find recipes at the back of all the books in the Send for Octavius Guy series: