Potatoes with chorizo, scallops, and gremolata.

Full disclosure: I didn’t pay for any part of this dish. It’s technically a sponsored post, I guess, which I agreed to do because the product is potatoes – whole potatoes, which I was allowed to do anything I wanted with. Some of them I cooked simply and slathered in butter, because potatoes in butter taste so much better than skinny could ever feel. (This is the point at which I am sure the nice potato people are wondering whose idea it was to contact me.)

I was asked by a company called EarthFresh, a Canadian potato company, to create a recipe for these pink and gold potatoes, and for it I got the groceries paid for. Which perhaps will become obvious to you when you see that I’ve created a recipe that uses a pound of scallops even though I am still unemployed. Maybe disclosure is redundant then? Anyway, the recipe will go into a contest and if I win I get a second gift card for even more groceries, which will come in handy should the search for work drag on.

As a main dish, I’ll admit this one’s a little weird. But bear with me – the sweetness of the potatoes is matched by the sweetness of the roasted garlic and the scallops, and balanced by the lemon juice and the spiciness of the pepper flakes, paprika, and chorizo.

While here they act almost like pasta, sopping up the dish’s flavourful juices, often potatoes are a secondary ingredient, a thing that rounds out a meatier dinner. I don’t know why that is, as on more than one occasion while I was a student I would eat a plate of buttery, cheesy mashed potatoes for supper and they were more than satisfying, but most often potatoes suffer silently at the side, relegated to the role of “lead starch.” We are told to enjoy them in moderation, and advised to eat them deep-fried less often.

Waxier potatoes, and in particular the golden varieties of potatoes, are not so bad for you. They score lower on the glycemic index, which means that Nick with his diabetes can eat more of them than the fluffy Russet kind as they aren’t so quick to spike his blood sugar levels. Even if he couldn’t eat a whole plate of them, golden potatoes also make for a more interesting mash.

Anyway.

Some notes on this recipe:

  • I used larger scallops for this, about 15 to 20 to a pound. If all you can get is the cute little baby scallops, cook them for less time – I’d guess 10 minutes.
  • I used two pounds of potatoes, about four potatoes to a pound which parboiled in about 15 minutes – if you have larger or smaller potatoes, adjust your cooking time.
  • If you decide not to use scallops, cubes of a firm-fleshed white fish, whole button mushrooms, or diced zucchini would work well instead.
  • When I tested this recipe I used a 9″x13″ baking dish, which worked fine, but the next time I make this I am going to use a roasting pan as I felt the potatoes could sop up even more flavour if they weren’t as densely packed. Use what you’ve got, though – a 9″x13″ baking dish won’t ruin dinner.

Potatoes with chorizo, scallops, and gremolata

  • 2 lbs. yellow-fleshed potatoes (such as Klondike Rose)
  • 1 lb. raw Spanish chorizo, cut into inch-thick pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice (from about one large lemon)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt, divided
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 lb. scallops (thawed if frozen)

Gremolata:

  • 1/4 cup parsley, firmly packed
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Parboil whole potatoes until just fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and chop into quarters or eighths, to about an inch thick. Toss into a bowl with raw chopped chorizo, bell peppers, and garlic cloves.

In a smaller bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, one teaspoon of salt, pepper flakes, smoked paprika, black pepper, and oregano. Pour over potato mixture and toss to coat.

Pour the dressed potato mixture into a baking dish or roasting pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Using the same bowl you tossed your potatoes in (don’t rinse it!), toss your scallops with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. After 20 minutes, pull the dish out of the oven and carefully nestle the scallops in with the potatoes and sausage.

Cook for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until potatoes have browned and scallops have turned lightly golden.

Meanwhile, place parlsey, garlic, lemon zest, and salt in a pile on your cutting board and chop everything finely. Really mince the hell out of it. Throw it into a bowl and mix with the red pepper flakes.

When your dish has finished baking, pull it out and sprinkle with the parsley mixture. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and serve hot, with crusty bread for sopping and a salad to make you feel virtuous.

 

 

Scotch eggs.

I wish I was in a place where we could talk warm yellow heirloom tomatoes, or crisp radishes drizzled with olive oil and speckled with flecks of ashy black salt, or fat red berries dipped in vanilla sugar. But I am in Vancouver, with wet socks because my galoshes both now have holes in the soles, half wondering what the hell I’m still doing here.

When we talk about our respective cultures, those muddled European backgrounds we cling tenuously to, what is important to Nick and I is less about the place – his heritage is roughly Dutch in the same way that mine is vaguely British – than it is about the food. When people talk about where they’re “from,” often they talk about a somewhere else, as if they really came from there, as if they identify more strongly with some other place than the place they are now. And maybe they do.

In the ongoing (and tedious) pursuit of a novel, I have been writing about the idea of reclaiming my culinary heritage. Mine, I guess, but to be honest the further I go with it the less sense it makes. Are the meals I grew up eating the only thing that counts? Are my grandmother’s recipes more significant than the dim sum I have eaten almost every weekend for more than half my life? Is the influence of Nick’s family recipes worth mentioning, or are they too new to count? I don’t know.

When I started writing about my grandmother’s shortbread, I had a direction in mind, but the further I go, the more I realize that culture is fluid, and I am Canadian which means nothing and everything all at once. Meatballs and maple syrup and smoked salmon and Szechuan green beans and Southern Barbeque are equally weighted here. And I loathe ketchup chips.

Being from the west coast of Canada, my food is everyone’s food – this is the meltiest melting pot I’ve ever seen. Way to add confusion, Emily. Never finish that culinary memoir, you feeb. So as much as I’d like to be able to write a simple book of recipes that speak to a simple culinary heritage, I can’t. My grandparents never ate tofu.

Do you claim a cultural heritage different from the one in the place you grew up? How do you self-identify, and is it more complicated than simply “the place you grew up is where you’re from?”

On days like these, after weeks of rain, the food that comforts Nick and I the most is the kind of food that goes with a lot of cold cheap beer. Food that is fried and rich and bad for us. Maybe the culture we most subscribe to is pub culture, as we are creatures of deep-fried habit. Tonight we ate a dish that has its origin in Scotland, where my grandmother’s family emigrated from. No relative of mine ever made it for me, but I make it whenever it’s rained too long, and whenever the pantry runs low and payday is still a long way off.

For Scotch eggs, I recommend starting with soft-boiled eggs. You will not overcook the yolks this way, but they will be set and cooked through by the time you’re done. Peel the eggs carefully.

Scotch eggs

  • 4 soft-boiled eggs*, shells removed
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, divided
  • 1/2 medium onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup finely grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 tsp. ground yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten

Combine ground beef, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, onion, carrot, parsley, garlic, oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt, ground mustard, oregano, and black pepper in a large bowl, and mix with your hands until thoroughly blended.

Divide meat mixture into four even portions. Spread meat across your palm – about twice the width of your egg – and press to an even thickness. Carefully wrap your egg in the meat mixture, pressing the meat to ensure the egg is completely sealed within.

Dip each meat-wrapped egg in the beaten egg, and dredge through bread crumbs until coated on all sides.

Fry in 1/2″ of oil over medium high heat, about four minutes per side, making quarter turns until each side is golden and meat is cooked through.

Remove to a plate lined with paper towel. Salt to taste.

Serve hot, with mustard as an accompaniment.

 

* I have never had any trouble using soft-boiled eggs, but my sister-in-law made these and found soft-boiled eggs hard to work with. Feel free to hard-boil the eggs; they might be easier to work with.