My grandfather, Montgomery Budd, did all the outside cooking at our beach house in Rehoboth, Delaware. (It was actually in Indian Beach, below Rehoboth and Dewey Beach.) His famous recipes included “Chicken a la Rain” and “Chicken a la Sand” grilled on a great big Weber. The steaks were thick and rare – “warm to the touch in the middle” was the rule.
But once in a while he made Rosin Potatoes. My sister Jane and I are the only people I know who have actually eaten rosin potatoes or know what they are. Googling shows they were common in the South, though they were a novelty to us Northerners. And they are delicious, beautifully soft and creamy on the inside. The downside is that you can’t eat the skin.
The only recipe I could find in my books was in James Beard’s Treasury of Outdoor Cooking, published in 1960. Now out of print, it can easily and cheaply found used. Highly recommended.
How to cook potatoes in rosin?
Start with large baking potatoes such as Idaho or Maine.
- Basically, you put pine rosin (perhaps 10 to 20 lbs) in a large kettle. Iron works well and you can use the rosin over and over again. According to James Beard, when melted, it should be 5 to 6 inches deep.
- Heat rosin to the boiling point. Hot rosin is flammable. So be very careful and keep the flame away from molten rosin. We always did this outdoors.
- Carefully lower potatoes one at a time into the rosin using long tongs or a slotted wooden-handled spoon.
- Allow them to remain in the simmering rosin until they float to the top. It should take about 20 minutes.
- Remove potatoes and put them in squares of tin foil, wrap them and twist the ends. Most recipes say use heavy brown paper, but we always used tin foil.
Use pure, natural, light color rosin for baking potatoes. Such rosins are usually classified as grade WW. Rosin in bulk can be found on-line in such places as Diamond Forest Products.
The 25th anniversary edition of Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine is out. This book, by Norma Jean and Carole Darden is what started my interest in collecting old family recipes, etc. It chronicles the Darden family roots from slavery with lots of old photos and great recipes from both the north and the south.
The sisters opened restaurants in Harlem and near Columbia University which I would like to try sometime – see Spoonbread Inc.
It was hard to choose among the recipes for sweet potatoes and I will need to revisit Sweet Potato Bread and Sweet Potato Biscuits. But this looked good:
Sweet Potato Spoon Custard
1 cup mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
2 small bananas, mashed
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks, beaten
3 tablespoons seedless raisins
Preheat oven to 300 degress. Combine mashed sweet potatoes and bananas. Add milk and blend. Pour into a well-greased 1-quart casserole. Bake for 45 minutes, until custard is firm and golden brown. Wonderful served with lamb or pork. (6 to 8 servings).
From a Jaques Pepin 1982 cookbook, “Everyday Cooking”, this is a thinner, crisper version of the typical potato pancake. Shredding and grating can be done with a food processor or a hand grater. The trick to getting airy, not starchy potatoes is to really squeeze out the liquid in a tea towel before mixing with the other ingredients.
1 large or 2 medium onions (for 1/2 cup grated onions)
3 to 4 large potatoes, peeled (1 3/4 lb.)
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil for cooking
Grate the onions into a smooth puree. Shred the potatoes and squeeze out the liquid. Combine with the other ingredients and mix thoroughly in a non-reactive bowl.
Heat oil in skillet and put about 3 tablespoonsful of mixture in for each pancake, flattening and spreading out so that it is thin with holes showing through. Fry for about 2 minutes a side on medium high heat. Best when eaten as soon as possible. That is usually not a problem since they are very good. Applesauce is traditionally served with them.