Half Your Plate with Chef Michael Smith: Baby Potato Hodge Podge
Hodge Podge is a maritime tradition made when a cook’s garden is full of fresh vegetables and the first baby potatoes of the year are ready. It’s the simplest possible way to stuff a pot with a lot of different vegetables. Two steps. Cook the harder vegetables first to give them a head start. Finish with the softer ones. It’s simple. Naturally every cook has their own version because it’s not about authenticity, it’s about filling Half Your Plate with vegetables!
Baby Potato Hodge Podge
SERVES 4 TO 6
- 1 pound or so of assorted baby potatoes, halved
- 4 large carrots or other root vegetable
- 2 diced onions
- 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves
- 2 cups (500 mL) of water
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of salt
- lots of freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound or so of yellow or green beans, snap or snow peas
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) of cream
- 8 sprigs of fresh thyme or your
- favourite backyard herb, leaves and tender stems finely minced
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of butter
Pile the potatoes into a pot along with the carrots, onions and garlic cloves. Pour in the water and season with salt and pepper. Bring the works to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are nearly tender, about 20 minutes.
Add the beans, cream and thyme and return the works to the simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until everything is tender and delicious. Stir in the butter and serve immediately.
How To Twist
This dish is all about using a basic method to cook what you have on hand. Gardens vary just as much as the selection at your supermarket. So don’t feel constrained by any rules. Use whatever vegetables you have, hard then soft. Aromatics? Just about any fresh herb is delicious. Thyme, tarragon, basil, sage, cilantro, oregano, chives, dill, rosemary, even parsley. Fresh herbs have the best flavour but feel free to use dry as well. Spinach? Kale? Other savoury Greens? Wait until the last second to stir them in. They’re the fastest cooking vegetable of all.
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