New potatoes with dill

Nypotatis med dill

New potatoes with dill

When I was a boy my Dad grew lots of potatoes. Good potatoes. Every year we looked forward to the first crop of new potatoes. My mother always cooked them in exactly the same way: with salt and fresh garden mint. There was no other way. For a special occasion they would be tossed in butter and parsley, but they had to be cooked in salt and garden mint.


Dill krugor (dill pots) lined up in a Swedish supermarket

I remember being shocked to discover, on one of my first trips to Sweden, that Swedes never used mint. I was soon to learn that dill is king in Sweden. Färskpotatis have to be cooked with salt and dill. They must then be tossed in butter and chopped dill. In Sweden too there is no other way.

So which is best? I don’t really know. I prefer the sweet smell of garden fresh mint wafting through the house as the potatoes are cooking. Is that just nostalgia? I don’t know. Tossing them in a little butter and dill is probably better than in butter and parsley, but it is a tough choice. If I am cooking a Swedish meal it has to be with butter and dill, of course.

One thing I am certain of: for the best flavour the potatoes need to be scraped or scrubbed. There was a time when we were being told that it was best to leave the skins on and we should never peel potatoes. Rubbish. Good new potatoes scrape (scrub) so easily and really do taste better without skins.

The problem is that supermarkets don’t like soil. They machine wash new potatoes and shove them in plastic bags. After that they don’t scrape. But by then it doesn’t matter: they just don’t taste like my Dad’s.

The solution is simple: grow your own or buy from a garden shop that doesn’t object to soil. Only then is it worth considering whether dill or mint is best. Try my compromise: mint whilst cooking but tossed in dill. John Duxbury

Summary

Ingredients

900 g (2 lb) freshly picked new potatoes, still with soil on
1   sprig of fresh mint (or dill stalks to be really Swedish)
½ tsp   salt
30 g (¼ stick) butter
2 tbsp   finely chopped dill
    salt (ideally rock salt) and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Wash the potatoes and then scrub or scrape off the skins. Rinse the potatoes.

2. Place the larger potatoes over the base of a saucepan and pop the smaller ones on top. Pour in enough boiling water to not quite cover them, add some salt and the sprig of mint.

3. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer gently for between 10 and 20 minutes. The cooking time depends on the variety and size. Test them with a skewer as they must be tender but still firm—overcooking really does spoil them.

4. Drain the potatoes and add the butter, chopped dill and a little pepper to the pan and then return the potatoes to the pan. Put the lid back on the pan and swirl the pan around to get each potato thoroughly coated.

5. Remove the lid, savour the delicious aroma and then sprinkle with a little rock salt before serving dishing them!

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John Duxbury
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