Fingerlings: New Coin of the Realm

One of the many foods I like, and my wife does not, is Fingerling Potatoes. Therefore, I don’t make them often, but when I do, I make enough for a couple of days. One night last week I was reheating leftovers for us for dinner. Barbara had a small bowl of steamed Yukon Gold potatoes, so I served those with her plate of leftovers, and I made one of Alice Waters’ simplest and most ingenious recipes: Fingerling Potato Coins, from her book, Chez Panisse Vegetables, to go on mine.

They were very good, and there was a large bowl of very small potato coins left over for the next day. Lunch is one of my best times for culinary invention: fewer time pressures, no one else to please, and a storehouse of this and that which can be combined or re-imagined. Thus was born the Gratin of Fingerling Potato Coins.

I took out one of my favorites — a hammered steel pan from Smithey Ironware Co. in North Charleston, SC, purchased through Food52 (I get no remuneration for any of the products I discuss here. I do this for fun, not money.). After rubbing the pan with a tablespoon of olive oil, I distributed the coins all around, added a little salt and pepper, then generously sprinkled grated cheese on top. I don’t actually remember which cheeses I used. It may have been Montasio and Aged Provolone, leftover from the Lemon Pizzas, or it could have been the Sardinian Pecorino I adore. Or all three. In any case, I mixed in some dried breadcrumbs, too, and then drizzled with olive oil on top. The pan was put in the top third of my oven and broiled until the cheese was melting and browned. Garnished with freshly-snipped Spring chives from our herb garden, and accompanied by a glass of one of my favorite Muscadets, my lunch was complete.

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