Rose's May Shop Watch - Jersey Royals
Richardson's Jersey Royals
Jersey Royals as you remember them
Do you remember when Jersey Royals tasted as if they already had butter on them? I used to long for the short season to arrive and replaced any and every potato dish with the buttery, waxy, nutty Jersey Royals. But some years ago, I noticed that the potatoes sold in the supermarkets no longer tasted of the real thing. In fact, I would go so far as to say they tasted little different from the potatoes sold as “new potatoes” all year round. They were a huge disappointment.
But then last year, a friend recommended that I buy online from Richardson’s, direct from Jersey. The potatoes literally arrived the next day by post, packed in brown bags with a clear window, through which I could see the potatoes, still with the earth clinging to their delicate skins. A gentle wash later, and ten minutes in a pan, and I was tasting Jersey Royals as I remembered. And they passed the big test – they tasted of butter straight from the pan. But I still smothered them with lashings of butter too.
So, what is the reason for the real taste? Well, the Richardson’s website explains much of this: they are grown in the mild climate of this tiny island in small plots using liquid seaweed as a natural fertiliser, which is beneficial to both the soil and to the flavour of the potatoes themselves. They are hand-picked and gently packed into the specially lined paper bags within minutes in the field, holding the freshness and retaining as much of the delicate skins as possible in order to capture their flavour. The bags are then heat sealed to keep the freshness in and the postal packs are flown out of the island every evening to ensure the shortest possible delivery times. So, what this boils down to is that they are lifted at the absolute optimum moment of flavour and got to your door in double quick time.
With all this flavour the very best way to eat them, as with all fresh seasonal ingredients, is the simplest – gently boiled until just tender, smothered with butter, with maybe a hint of mint, then scattered with some flakes of Malden salt. I could eat a bowl of these as a meal in itself. Change the herb, if you want, to tarragon or maybe a mixture of chives, parsley and mint. Pair with other seasonal vegetables like asparagus or peas or baby broad beans or all three.
Serving Jersey Royals as a warm salad is a way of turning them into a lunch dish. The potatoes should be dressed whilst still warm and mixed with crispy pancetta or Parma ham or chorizo or with seared scallops or prawns, then add spring onions and some broad beans or asparagus. Instead of a vinaigrette use mayonnaise or even a miso mayo.
I find that they go particularly well with fish – the delicacy of each complements the other. A bowl of warm potatoes stirred through with tarragon or dill mayonnaise is lovely with poached salmon or sea trout or smoked haddock or even cod. Alternatively, you can crush them and add butter and mint.
You can also roast them with herbs like rosemary if you like; or mix with cream for a gratin – golden brown as it emerges from the oven. They are also an essential part of my favourite spring stew: navarin of lamb printanier – a casserole of lamb with all the seasonal vegetables: peas, broad beans, green beans, baby turnips, young carrots, and, of course, Jersey Royals.
Whatever you do make the most of this sublime potato.
Butter them up
Richardson's Jersey Royal
1kg bag £7.99
Price and availability as at 30th April 2021
The Jersey Royals season finishes end of July. Contact Richardson's for more information.