Do you remember as a kid how anchovies were seen as something really gross? People would always talk about anchovies on pizza, and then go “ewwwww!!!” I had no idea what anchovies really were until I was much older, and then still, for years, I thought they were something gross that shouldn’t be touched.
It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I started to venture out and try anchovies. First it was on Caesar salads, and then in pasta dishes. I soon learned to love and appreciate the beautifully deep and rich flavors that anchovies contribute to a dish. Anchovies are packed full of umami, and can really provide depth of flavor to almost anything.
So when I saw this simple classic Italian recipe for pan-roasted potatoes with anchovies, I knew I had to try it.
The original recipe calls for peeling the potatoes, soaking them for 15 minutes in cold water, and then drying them on towels. I tend to like the skin on the potatoes. Plus, they are packed with nutrients, so I decided to keep them on. If these were conventionally grown potatoes, I might be reconsider since potatoes harbor some of the highest amounts of pesticides (check out the “dirty dozen list.“) However, since my potatoes were organic, I thought this was not really a problem.
I also purchased anchovies at an Italian market in the North End. The better quality anchovies you use, the better this dish will taste. Don’t skimp on your anchovies! Cheap anchovies often lack the super deep umami flavor and merely contribute a shallow saltiness to the dish.
I think the amount of anchovies is flexible, and I think I snuck in an extra one just because I wanted a bit more flavor.
Overall, this dish came together relatively easily and was a hit. The anchovies add a nice subtle depth of flavor to the potatoes without making them taste fishy. This was also easy enough that it would be something I would definitely be willing to make again.
Pan-Roasted Potatoes with Anchovies, Genoa Style
adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan
1 1/2 pounds round, waxy, boiling potatoes
2 flat anchovy filets
3 T EVOO
2 T butter
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp chopped garlic
3 T chopped parsley
Cut the potatoes into 1/4 in thick slices. Soak the slices in a bowl of cold water for 15 minutes. Drain, and pat dry with a towel. Choose a saute pan that can fit all the potato slices stacked up about 1 1/2 inches high. I used my trusty All-Clad stainless steel 12-inch fry pan (review here) which worked great.
Chop anchovies to a pulp and heat them over low heat with the oil and butter. Continue mashing the anchovies in the pan until they begin to dissolve. Add the sliced potatoes and a few “grinds” of pepper. Turn the potatoes over 2-3 times to ensure that they are coated. Turn the heat up to medium and cover, cooking for another 15 minutes, flipping from time to time.
Add salt, garlic, and parley to taste.
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