The pretty little medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber sits atop a gentle hill in the heart of Bavaria, in Germany. Its name literally means 'Red fortress above the Tauber (river)'. A perfectly preserved town from the middle ages, Rothenburg is surrounded by an ancient covered wall that you enter through massive gates with looming guard towers.
If you have ever imagined a city from the pages of Grimms' fairy tales, this is as close as you are going to get to it. There is an enchanted feeling in the air and anything seems possible - even a knight in shining armor around the corner. It would seem quite natural if Hansel and Gretel went skipping past you through the streets of Rothenburg!
We were captivated by this quaint little place and spent many happy hours admiring its Germanic architecture, walking up and down sloping cobblestone streets, exploring museums, churches, castles and fortifications, only pausing every now and then to sample the local cuisine.
We came across many unique foods that we hadn't tried before. Schneeballen (literally snowballs) are a centuries old confection, made with shortcrust pastry cut into strips and shaped into balls. These are then rolled in icing sugar and sometimes dipped in chocolate or filled with marzipan.
The local Franconian cuisine is known for its bratwurst which is traditionally served with sauerkraut and potatoes. There is no end to the variety of ways that potatoes are prepared in Germany: fried, roasted or boiled; as pancakes, dumplings or croquettes; in soups; and in potato salads. Even when they are simply steamed and served with a sprinkling of parsley and pepper, they are delicious.
The deceptive simplicity of my potato recipe belies its incredible flavor. Black pepper is the only spice used, bringing back the medieval days when Germans were one of the biggest consumers of pepper, brought at great expense all the way from India. Frying the ground pepper in butter with the garlic, releases its flavors which are absorbed by the potatoes, adding a gentle smoky heat to them. It is crucial to use baby new potatoes as their inherent sweetness and tender skin adds to the flavor of the dish.
Garlic Roasted Smashed Potatoes With Black Pepper
You can add a sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary or even coriander to the potatoes as they roast. For a change of pace, saute 1/2 a finely chopped onion along with the garlic.
1 lb small new potatoes
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
Salt to taste
Boil potatoes until just tender but not mushy. Drain and reserve.
Warm butter in non stick skillet set over medium high heat. Add garlic and pepper. Saute for about 30 sec, just until garlic starts to brown lightly. Add potatoes and pan roast until lightly browned, about 10 min, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and using a flat spatula, flatten each potato gently till it is smashed. Toss gently, continue to roast 5 min for flavors to blend.