Christmas

Crispy Lemon-Saffron Potatoes With Black Peppercorns

April 18, 2021
4 Stars
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Megan Hedgpeth.
Author Notes

These stovetop potatoes are first browned in the pan, then finished cooking with a lemon-saffron water and black peppercorns to give it a rich and spicy flavor. The braising liquid reduces down to a thick consistency that coats and infuses the potatoes, also giving them a bright, orangey color.

If you make them in a cast-iron or other attractive skillet, then serve them directly out of the pan, or, if transferring to a serving platter, make sure to scrap every last bit of liquid in the pan (or take a piece of bread and wipe it clean, no one will judge you once they taste it). Serve any leftover potatoes for breakfast with eggs, cooking them in a pan until hot and crispy. —yasminfahr

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 as a side
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes, quartered (small ones halved)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed and dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley and fine stems, roughly chopped
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Then add the potatoes in an even layer, season with a big sprinkle of salt, and cook, stirring at 1 minute increments to allow the potatoes to make uninterrupted contact with the pan, until most of the potatoes are browned in spots, about 10 minutes (open the windows or a fan as it might a little smoky).
  2. Once the potatoes have browned, add the lemon juice, steeped saffron water, and another 1/2 cup hot water to the pan. Add the black peppercorns and 1 teaspoon salt to the potatoes, stirring to combine. (The potatoes won’t be fully submerged and that’s okay.) Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes more. If the pan looks too dry at any point, then add another tablespoon of warm water at a time.
  3. Remove from the stove and top with the parsley; serve out of the pan, or make sure to scrape every last bit of juice on the bottom of the pan if transferring to a serving bowl. (You can eat the peppercorns, if you like or skip them.)

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Romilly Moore
    Romilly Moore
  • Smaug
    Smaug
  • Betty
    Betty
  • BE
    BE
Yasmin is a recipe developer and cookbook author. Her first book, Keeping it Simple, is full of easy, weeknight one-pot recipes. Say hi to her online @yasminfahr!

9 Reviews

Betty August 19, 2021
Contrary to another review, I found these could use more lemon and less saffron. Also, I think the process is backwards. I might try again, but I would braise first, then crisp them. I had some left over and sautéed them in a Non stick pan, much better.
 
Romilly M. January 25, 2021
Made these last night. Agree with comment below once crisped then simmered they weren’t crispy and needed to cook them a bit longer than 20 min simmering. Felt something was missing , maybe a bit of crushed garlic but they were still tasted and nice to have an alternative .
 
Smaug November 22, 2020
Well, anything for science; I decided to give this a shot in an open cast iron skillet. After browning for 10min+- at which point they should have been fairly well along the way to fried- I set them asimmer. After a bit more than 40 minutes, they were still distinctly al dente, but edible and dinner was getting cold. The texture was ok if you like al dente potatoes- I prefer a bit softer, and after being essentially boiled for 40 minutes they certainly couldn't be described as crisp. The flavor was fine- I used Meyer lemon juice, but I don't think I'd have found regular lemon juice excessive (I'm from lemon territory, we generally like a lot of lemon)- of course, if you like the cooking method you could flavor them pretty much any way you like. Even with a pretty conservative take on what constitutes a tsp. of saffron threads, this is an expensive plate of potatoes.
I really can't see any upside to cooking in an open pan; a covered pan will cook them much faster (about 20 min.) and more evenly. If you do it with just oil or butter and salt they will steam in their own moisture and no browning step will be needed; you can add flavored liquid and cook it down quickly after they're done. If you use liquid (it only takes a Tb. or two) they will come out softer; you'll need to brown them first; any excess liquid can be quickly cooked off at the end
 
BE November 21, 2020
For those wondering in prior comments if the overall method works (uncovered cooking with the specified amount of liquid per the instructions in the recipe): potatoes were perfectly cooked following the instructions in the recipe. I will be using this method for potatoes in the future. However, the lemon flavor was absolutely overwhelming. They were borderline inedible. I would dramatically reduce the amount of acid next time. I would also suggest adding a tablespoon of butter to the liquid to add some balance and smoothness.
 
Helen November 20, 2020
I made these as instructed. The potatoes cooked nicely. There was not too much liquid. It was almost all gone when the potatoes were done. My husband liked it better than I did. Either I don't like saffron that much or 1 t. was too much. I won't be making this again.
 
Smaug November 18, 2020
I may try this, though it would come out a bit pricey; the world could use a reasonable way to measure things like saffron and parsley, although the quantities are scarcely critical. More critical is whether the pan is to be covered; that's an awful lot of liquid ( in a pan with a good cover the potatoes will cook just fine with no added liquid)- it looks like it could come out pretty soupy; that could easily be dealt with, but how much liquid is intended to remain?
 
JV November 19, 2020
It doesn’t say to cover so I assume it’s not covered.

You can see in the picture there’s not meant to be a lot of liquid left... seems it’s mostly evaporated and absorbed.
 
Smaug November 19, 2020
Probably so, but I'd have my doubts about the potatoes getting done that way and she does refer to "braising" them.
 
JV November 20, 2020
True. Anyways the title seems misleading... I doubt they’d be “crispy” after simmering them.

It does still look delicious... will probably try them