Friday, November 13, 2009

Potato Flatbread

So, I happened into the possession of a half-empty bag of russet potatoes the other day (looong story). I tend to fall more on the waxy side of potato preference, so I didn't much relish the thought of roasting, baking, or mashing these spuds. I remembered that baked goods usually call for starchy potatoes like russets, so I set about finding me a recipe. I considered pierogi, latkes, and potato rolls, but ultimately what caught my fancy was the idea of potato flatbread -- like the potato cakes I enjoyed with my traditional Irish breakfast this spring. But with punched-up flavor, naturally. Darn Brits and their inveterate blandness.

Notes: I worked off of a recipe I found online, but I made so many alterations to it (including translating it from grams into cups) that I don't feel obligated to credit it. So there. The yeast I added only caused a slight rise, but I believe it really improved the texture of the dough; it was very workable after resting. Next time I'll try doubling the amount of yeast and see if that increases the rise. I cannot overemphasize the importance of SEASONING to this recipe. Think about it; you're working with potatoes, flour, and dairy -- flavor-deadeners, every one. Use lots of salt, lots of pepper, lots of flavoring. I really recommend the fresh parsley. I dunno if it was the sweet potato flavor that really complemented it, or if parsley mellows with age or something (cuz this was some ooold parsley -- though apparently it keeps for, like, EVER). Anyway, this parsley had the most wonderful fresh, earthy, carroty flavor, and was just perfect, and really pretty.

Potato Flatbread

russet potatoes (about 3 small), sliced into quarter-inch disks
sweet potato, yellow or orange, sliced into quarter-inch disks
(you want enough potato to make 2 generous cups mash)

1 scant cup flour

1/3 - 1/2 cup butter, melted
salt and pepper
spices/flavorings as desired (I went with an Eastern European approach: a clove of garlic, plenty of onion powder, some allspice, some dried rosemary, a pinch each of nutmeg and white pepper, and about a half-cup of finely diced fresh parsley. Some smoked paprika would have been awesome, too.)

1/2 tsp dry yeast

Cover russet slices in cold, salted water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and add sweet potatoes. Cover and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender, 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, measure out flour. Melt butter and stir in all flavorings except fresh herbs.  

When potatoes are cooked, scoop out 3 TB of hot potato water and, when no longer steaming, add yeast and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain potatoes and stir over heat for a minute to dry. Mash very thoroughly or send through a ricer. Stir in butter mixture and fresh herbs. When no longer steaming, stir in water/yeast mixture. Gradually stir in flour. 

Form into a dough ball and knead on floured surface until elastic and homogeneous -- about ten passes. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, cover, and set in warm place to rise for 60 minutes. 

Push down dough, knead a few more times on floured surface, then divide into balls (whatever size will fit your skillet) and roll flat into quarter-inch thick circles. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Heat heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook flatbread on each side until spotty golden brown. Serve warm. Makes about 10 six-inch flatbreads. 

Serving ideas: I ate mine with sour cream and jarred applesauce, which was delicious, but it'd be even better with sour cream and a homemade chutney of caramelized onion and sauteed apples. Mmm. Or use that onion/apple chutney as a filling for a quesadilla-type thing, with cheese -- ooh, Stilton and Swiss! YUM! Also, check out this cool see-through effect.

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