Potatoes. They are everywhere. Like a F150 pickup. Everywhere you look.
It’s not that I don’t like potatoes; I do. Like most of you, I grew up eating baked potatoes and mashed potatoes, French fries and hash browns. When hasselbacks emerge from the oven, crusty and golden, garlicky and soft, I’ll be the first to spoon half a dozen to my plate.
I’m nuts about au gratin, that sloppy, creamy potato casserole plumped full with butter, milk and several different kinds of cheese—you and I both know that’s pure comfort on a plate.
And if it’s Chanukah and you bring latkes, you’ll make me one happy girl – in fact, that’s true if it’s Chanukah or not.
But all these facts notwithstanding, in this household, we hardly ever buy potatoes. I think the last time they were in my grocery cart was circa 2010, and as strange as that sounds when you consider my earlier admissions, the reason’s pretty simple. It comes down to two words:
Because when I’m standing in the produce section, faced with the choice of either a bag of hearty Idahos or their long and orange counterparts, the sweet potatoes win every time (well, the sweet potatoes or the yams, to be more clear, because the differences between the two have never struck me as important enough to change the way I use them).
Sweet potatoes can be used almost interchangeably in traditional potato recipes: as fries, in roasted rounds, mashed, in casseroles, as latkes, baked whole. What’s more, they do much more – add them to smoothies! Try them in brownies! Roast and puree them and use them for pies!
And their nutritional profile is so rich: beta carotene! vitamin C! antioxidants! anti-inflammatory! helpful in regulating blood sugar!
Still though, sometimes, looking at the jewel yams or purple sweet potatoes in my shopping bag and thinking of the white potatoes that have been overlooked, I can’t help feeling a little like I’m watching a kid not get picked for a baseball team or quietly looking the other way while a friend gets passed over for a promotion.
I know, rationally, that outside of my little universe, the traditional potato is far from underappreciated, but still, just knowing how often I pass them by sends my maternal instincts to work.
Comparisons can be so unfair. Nobody likes to be left out. Ask any writer: rejection stinks. Furthermore, it’s not like I’m talking about a jelly doughnut or a beer-battered onion ring, here. Potatoes are whole foods!
So when our CSA delivers Tennessee-grown heirloom fingerlings and about a dozen new potatoes in our biweekly box, the part of me that roots for underdogs rejoices. See, Potatoes, I think while I stack them in the pantry, we do like you, too!
And then, since the return of potatoes to our kitchen warrants something special and celebratory, something both pretty to look at and delightful to eat, we make a tian: a combination of thinly sliced rounds with sauteed onions and garlic, chicken broth, Pecorino and a slow bake. Delicately arranged into what looks almost like a flower or a bloom, the tian takes its place at the table like the supper star.
Sure, you could do the same thing with sweet potatoes, but today, at least today, we don’t.Print
Are you looking for a beautiful dish that’s tasty and fun to eat? Try a potato tian. This is a made with thinly sliced rounds arranged into a flower pattern that is smothered in sautéed onions and garlic and chicken broth. Topped with Pecorino cheese and slow baked, it’s easy to make but looks like a million bucks.
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1/4 onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 new potatoes, sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 8 to 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 1 to 2 ounces Pecorino cheese, shredded
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Once warm and melted, add onion, letting the slices turn translucent. Add garlic. Cook until golden and caramelized. Add onion-garlic mixture to the bottom of a medium baking dish (I used an oval) and spread out as much as you can.
- Next place the sliced potatoes in the dish, in one single layer, arranging them into a circular pattern. Once you have it the way you like, pour chicken stock all over the top. Add the leaves of the thyme. Salt and pepper liberally all over. Cover everything with cheese.
- Cover with aluminum foil or parchment and bake for 25 minutes. Remove cover, drizzle olive oil over the top, and return to oven for 10 to 20 more minutes. Remove when potatoes are fork-tender.
Keywords: new potatos, tian, Pecorino cheese, comfort food
What about you? Did you make this tasty recipe and love it as much as we did? If so, let us know your thoughts in the comments below and please give it a rating!
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About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.