It is the climate, the unique earth, and the seaweed fertiliser that give Jersey Royals their much anticipated flavour. First arriving on our mainland shores around the end of March and coming to an end before July, the season is short and all the sweeter for it. One of the first new flavours of Spring, the growing conditions of Jersey Royals mean that they are literally seasoned as they grow.
Because of their delicate flavour, the best way to enjoy Jersey Royals is as nature intended them; washed, boiled for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender, and slathered in proper butter. Add a touch of green by way of mint, parsley or chive if you must.
However, the season is short and supply plentiful so you may wish to ring a few changes with your potato eating habits. Essentially, anything that can be done with a new potato can be done with a Jersey Royal; but remember that flavour is key.
Other springtime foods go well with Jerseys; fresh light flavours such as new season lamb, young spinach, asparagus (when it truly arrives), and sea trout.
So, as promised, here are 3 ideas for getting the most out of Jersey Royal season.
Apparently there is no place for potato, new or otherwise, in a true Salade Nicoise. Inspired by Felicity Cloake’s diatribe on tinned tuna et al, I have gone for a salad of Jersey Royals, capers, and eggs, dressed in a well-seasoned parsley oil. No mustard or vinegar necessary; perhaps just a miniscule drop of lemon juice to brighten the thing.
Simply slice still-warm boiled Jersey Royals, mix with capers, chopped parsley, freshly ground black pepper, and a good slug of olive oil. Add a drop of freshly squeezed lemon and top with a scatter of chunky-chopped hard-boiled egg.
Bacon, cheese and onion Lyonnaise
Another spin on classic cuisine, this is comfort food of note. Lyonnaise in the French tradition basically means onion; here they need to be cooked down to sweet succulent strands to contribute best to the dish. Really, the onions and potatoes should be cooked together very slowly to extract the best flavours, but it can be slightly laborious making sure that they don’t catch.
Cook about 2 onions, very thinly sliced, in a large cast iron frying pan with a few tablespoons olive oil over a very low heat, and a few rashers of chopped bacon. You won’t need any salt. Stir them often and cook until soft, translucent, and on the verge of turning golden. Meanwhile boil the Jersey Royals and slice to the thickness of a pound coin. Remove the onion/bacon combo from the frying pan, add a glug more oil if necessary, and fry the potatoes on each side until browned. Add back the onions, stir carefully, and top with a grated mild cheese such as Double Gloucester to melt.
Lamb chops with crushed Jersey Royals, peas and mint
Another dish of fairly classic flavours but, with the delicate flavour of Jersey Royals, that is kind of the point. Boil the potatoes until soft and drain thoroughly. Crush each potato with a fork, stir in cooked peas and a tablespoon or so of chopped fresh mint. Finish by stirring in a little butter and seasoning with a touch of flaked sea salt. Serve with grilled lamb chops and a salad of pea shoots or watercress.