That’s what a guest called these potatoes when we served them to her last summer. They were just as magical last night. Fortunately, it’s easy magic to make: get enough little spuds (dime to nickel in diameter) to cover the bottom of whatever skillet you’re going to use (cast iron is best). Any kind of potato will do, but the German Butterballs we got at the market on Saturday stood out from the others in the pan in the way only something named “German Butterball” can. Put some good fat in with them (olive oil is fine, but use chicken or duck fat if you’ve got it), salt and pepper, and some thyme or rosemary if you feel the need — but try them once with just salt and pepper first. Then pour in enough water to come maybe a quarter of the way up the potatoes. You can cook them either in the oven (400ish) or on the stovetop. As they cook, stir them occasionally. The water softens the potatoes then evaporates, leaving the oil to coat and crisp them. Finishing them briefly under the broiler isn’t a bad idea if what you’re after is just the right amount of crispityness. And who isn’t after just the right amount of crispityness? And should it be spelled “crispittyness”? One isn’t sure. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that when you pop one of these potatoes in your mouth the skin should resist just a little, enough to remind you that not everything in life is easy, before you feel your whole being flooded with warmth and love. Like hugging grandma. Only it’s a potato.
(Lots more to come; I’ve taken a few weeks off from writing, but not from eating!)