Posted by Tania Kindersley.
As part of the Charlotte potato festival that is taking place in my house, I made these for lunch, and ate them with a griddled chicken breast.
Quite idiotically delicious, even though I say so myself.
Take your potatoes, boil in salted water for about fifteen minutes. You want them very yielding, even slightly overdone. Drain and let dry. Then throw them into a frying pan with a good gloop of extra virgin olive oil, and smash them about with a wooden spoon until they break into rough chunks.
Keep the heat fairly low - the point is not to make the potatoes at all crispy, but let them absorb all the delectable olive oil. You may, if the fancy takes you, throw in a couple of finely chopped garlic cloves at this stage. Keep them moving, as you do not want them to brown. This all takes about ten minutes. At the very end, add as much torn basil as you like (I like a LOT), and stir until it has just wilted. Add a good pinch of Maldon salt, and a grind of pepper.
I know these seem quite a complicated set of instructions for a very simple dish, but in some ways it proves my point about cooking, which is that it is not some mysterious alchemy that only a chosen few have the talent for, it is merely the infinite taking of pains. In this recipe, precisely because it is so simple and requires so few ingredients, there is no hiding place. If you heat the pan too much, you will lose the flavour of the olive oil, and also the melting texture of the potatoes, and burn the garlic. If you throw the potatoes into the oil before they are dry, you will dilute it, and again lose flavour and texture. All of which is why, as Sarah will tell you, I am unabashedly bossy when it comes to food.
A final footnote: most of the recipes we put up here are our own inventions. We are not very good at following cookery books precisely (too impatient and bolshie) and so mostly make up our own stuff. Although we do sometimes go to bed with Nigel Slater. If ever we find a recipe that is too good not to share, we will always credit its author. Otherwise, you may assume that the thing is the product of our own fevered minds.