March 5, 2013

Southwest Potatoes, from Mark Bittman

I love potatoes, cooked every which way, so when I see an interesting new recipe using potatoes, I am bound to try it. Last year I cut this recipe out of the NY Times from a "Minimalist" column by Mark Bittman. I admire Bittman's writing on food and agriculture: he supports healthy food habits in the home and on the farm. His recipes in his Minimalist column are simple and straightforward, and delicious, and this was no exception. A surprising flavor comes from browning the potatoes so that they develop a crust; in order for this to work, you have to follow his instructions not to turn them often. I used frozen corn and canned beans; I think the texture of the dish would be better with fresh corn (this is winter and I have garden corn in my freezer), and with beans cooked from dried beans (canned is so convenient). The jalapeno I used came from my garden––I have some in my freezer––and was red, so not too pungent. I used only a heaping tablespoon, but I could have used a full two tablespoons for a stronger flavor. This makes 4 to 6 servings....for me, just 4, or less if my appetite is huge.

5 Tbs olive oil, or more as needed
2 Tbs minced fresh jalapeno, or to taste
1 to 1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds new potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks. (I used my favorite Carola yellow potatoes, stored in my root cellar, so I cut the potatoes into smaller chunks, maybe 3/4 inch, so they'd cook through; true new potatoes will cook much more quickly.)
1/2 to 1 teas. chili powder, or to taste
1 14-oz can black beans, well drained
3/4 to 1 cup grated Cheddar or Jack cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

  1. Put 1 Tbs of oil in a large skillet on medium heat. When hot, add jalapeno and corn, sprinkle with salt and pepper and let sit for a moment. When corn begins to brown, shake pan to distribute for even browning. Remove corn.
  2. Add remaining oil to skillet, when hot add potatoes. (they should be in a single layer to cook properly). Cook, undisturbed, until they begin to brown around the edges and release from the pan, around 10 minutes. Continue turning only from time to time, at least 15 more minutes, to brown all sides. Do not stir often. Turn down flame if the potatoes are scorching (hmm, they got away from me and I had some burnt ones). When potatoes are tender, add chili powder, corn, and beans.
  3. Turn on broiler, move rack about 4 inches below the flame. Transfer potatoes to a baking dish and sprinkle with the cheese. Place under broiler until cheese is melted and just beginning to brown, 2 or 3 minutes. Garnish with cilantro. 


  1. Kind of like rice and beans but with potatoes instead. Sounds (and looks) delicious! I did lentils and white beans with roasted carrots for dinner tonight. Something comforting after 12 hours of falling snow and does not seem to be over yet.

    1. Your dinner sounds excellent too. I'm sorry to hear about the snow; it doesn't sound like we're going to be getting it after you, just "chance of snow".

  2. I will definitely have to try these potates. They look great.

  3. Oh. Wow. Thank you, Altoon -- I'm making this one soon!