Noirmoutier Potatoes with Fleur de Sel

As promised, here is recipe for the wonderfully delicious potatoes we served with La Cagouilleā€™s Sea Scallops with Warm Vinaigrette. It’s a method of cooking potatoes totally new to me – in a pot on the stove with nothing but butter or olive oil, salt and garlic. So very French, don’t you think? Not to mention, a great tactic if you find yourself without a free oven to roast potatoes, and don’t want to mash them.

The recipe comes from Patricia Well’s Paris Cookbook, where we learn that when you buy first-of-the-season baby potatoes at the avenue de Saxe Market

Each sack of precious potatoes comes with a tiny bag of the equally noble fleur de sel, the fine crystals of sea salt that are hand-harvested on the island of Noirmoutier, not far from the Nantes on the Atlantic coast.

They’re practically telling you how to cook little new potatoes, and who are we to do differently? So get thee to your nearest Farmers Market and do what needs to be done.

I wish I could say we used Noirmoutier fleur de sel in our potatoes, but sadly we did not. Even more sadly, we had recently used the last of our box of Maldon Sea Salt. This left us with just the Fine Sea Salt we buy from Costco, which for almost any purpose is more than fine. And the potatoes were delicious. But this recipe demands a good finishing salt. I really want to make them again, and I really want to use the eponymous Noirmoutier.

A bit of searching landed me on the website of The Meadow, a wonderfully tiny store on Hudson street in the West Village that specializes in salt, and which carries Noirmoutier. Now I recall we visited the Meadows a few years back as part of a gastronomic tour of the Village, where I’d purchased a small block of Himalayan Salt that I still haven’t figured out how to grind. (The tiny hand grater I got with it doesn’t really do the trick) I’m pleased to see the place is still in business. On my to-do list now is a trip there to pick up some Noirmoutier salt and a better grater for my pink salt.

In the meantime, feel free to make these potatoes, as we did, with whatever salt you happen to have around.

Noirmoutier Potatoes with Fleur de Sel

This recipe serves 4. We used a mix of olive oil and butter – next time I will try just the butter. Do use the garlic – those soft cloves are a gift. I increased the quantity of garlic from 3 to 4, so everyone gets a clove. By leaving the garlic unpeeled, their flavor does not overwhelm the potatoes.

  • 2 pounds baby potatoes (fingerlings or small Yukon gold). Get the very smallest new potatoes you can find, and if not equally sized, cut up larger ones to match the smallest.
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter (or eEVOO)
  • 4 plump, fresh cloves of garlic, unpeeled (optional)
  • Coarse sea salt to taste
  • Fleur de sel

Rinse and pat potatoes dry. Place the potatoes in a large pot. (This is important – it should be a nice large pot, so that the potatoes are spread around the bottom. Though not necessarily in a single layer, close to it.) Add butter, garlic an coarse sea salt.

Cover and cook over lowest possible heat, turning from time to time, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and are browned in patches. Cooking time will vary depending on the potato size. Those potatoes up there took about 40 minutes, and I ended up turning up the heat just a tad from the lowest possible setting, which for us was practically off.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl. Serve, making sure everyone gets a clove of garlic with their potatoes, passing a small dish of fleur de sel at the table.

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One Response to Noirmoutier Potatoes with Fleur de Sel

  1. From the Chairwoman
    Here in the UK, Himalayan salt is sold in a mini salt mill/grinder. I generally use Rock Salt for cooking and ‘everyday’ use, and Maldon or Cornish Sea Salt for sprinkling.
    I hope all is well with you,
    Chairwoman.

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