Crash & Burn Potatoes with Cinnamon Malt Vinegar
This style of cooking potatoes, made popular by Australian food writer Jill Dupleix, showcases a crispy crunchy exterior and a creamy middle. But after they are crisped, my version bastes them with a potent chile-vinegar sauce, making this really hot. A crash and burn kind of recipe.
• 1½ pounds new red potatoes
• ¼ cup malt vinegar
• 3 to 5 dried red chiles (such as cayenne or chile de arbol), stems discarded
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
• 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
• 4 medium-size cloves garlic
• 2 slices fresh ginger (each about the size and thickness of a quarter; no need to peel first)
• 1 stick (3 inches) cinnamon, broken into smaller pieces
• Canola oil, for brushing
• Sour cream or creme fraiche, for serving (optional)
1. Scrub the potatoes well, give them a good rinse under cold running water, place them in a medium-size saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are just tender but still firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Take care not to overcook the potatoes. Drain them in a colander and rinse under cold running water to cool them down. Give the colander a few good shakes to rid the potatoes of excess water.
2. As the potatoes cook, combine the vinegar, chiles, cumin seeds, salt, peppercorns, onion, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon in a blender jar. Puree until a highly pungent, reddish-brown paste forms, scraping the inside of the jar as needed. Add just enough water to make it brushable. Pour into a small bowl.
3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it with oil.
4. Smash the potatoes one by one on a cutting board with a potato masher. Place each potato on the cookie sheet. Be sure to keep them separate. Liberally brush each of the smashed potatoes with oil on both sides.
5. Bake the potatoes until crispy brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Flip them over after about 12 minutes and rotate the cookie sheet front to back.
6. Once the potatoes are crisp, liberally brush each of them on both sides with the chile-vinegar sauce. Try to use all of it. Return the pan of potatoes to the oven and continue to bake them until they have a nice dried coat, 5 to 8 minutes. Serve hot, with sour cream or creme fraiche for dipping if you want to modulate the heat from the chiles.