Baked potatoes suit this time of year rather well. They just get on with things while we do other stuff. They warm and cosset us, are cheap and incredibly cheerful. Last Christmas I rolled tiny maincrop potatoes in salt, baked them, then piled them, sparkling with salt, in a dish and served them with a little bowl of melted Shropshire Blue. The salt crust brushed off, leaving the skin crisp and savoury. Give me a plate of these, and the garlicky cheese dip beside them, and I’ll be just fine, thank you.
5 tablespoons smoked sea salt flakes
5 tablespoons sea salt flakes
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
8 medium floury potatoes
6 whole sprigs thyme
6 large cloves garlic
FOR THE DIP
175g goat’s curd
100g blue cheese
- Mix the smoked and natural sea salt flakes and tip them into a roasting tin. Set the oven at 200C/gas 6.
- Chop the thyme leaves, then toss them with the salts. Wash the potatoes thoroughly, then, while they are still wet, roll them in the thyme salt, pressing them down so the salt adheres to their skins. Set them well apart in the roasting tin, on the bed of salt. Tuck the whole thyme sprigs and cloves of garlic, unpeeled, among the potatoes and bake in the preheated oven for an hour, until the potatoes are crunchy outside, soft and fluffy within.
- Warm the goat’s curd in a small saucepan, then crumble in the blue cheese. Remove the garlic from the roasting tin, slice each clove open and squeeze the soft, sweet flesh within into the cheese. As the blue cheese starts to melt, give it a quick stir, then pour it into a small, warm bowl.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven and wipe off most of the salt – it has done its job. Split the potatoes open and serve with the cheese and garlic dip.