Summer state fairs are a big deal in my stomping grounds of New York and New England. Concerts, ring tosses, red wine slushies (yes, they’re a thing) and the state’s finest butter sculptures — they’ve got it all. The best part, though, is the fair food. Footlong hot dogs and funnel cakes are fine, but the real jackpot is the salt potatoes.
There’s something magical about strolling through a dusty fairground with a paper boat full of salty, buttered bite-sized balls of carb. Life somehow feels a little bit more carefree. That is, until you feel foolhardy enough to cap the night off with a ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl, but that’s a cautionary tale for another time.
Only at the fair could we get away with eating a pile of potatoes for dinner. Round out the meal out with a simple honey-bourbon-glazed chicken breast or swap in pork chops or salmon. Also when making this state fair staple at home, don’t let the amount of salt that goes into the water intimidate you. It may feel like a lot, but the spuds can handle it, plus they’re called “salt potatoes” for a reason. The herbs do a nice job of giving them a good gussy-up, but the real star is the finishing toss of butter. As they say, “mo’ butter, mo’ better.”
Honey-Bourbon Chicken + State Fair Salt Potatoes
Total Time: 20 min
Prep: 5 min
Cook: 15 min
Yield: 4 servings
For the potatoes:
2 pounds baby red and Yukon gold potatoes, halved
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup mixed chopped herbs, such as oregano, dill, thyme and parsley
Salt and ground black pepper
For the chicken:
2 tablespoons honey
1 shot bourbon
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Four 4- to 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 or 3 sprigs rosemary, tied together
Preheat a grill to medium-high and grease grate.
Place potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Heavily salt water, adding 1 tablespoon per 1 cup of liquid. Place pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes until tender, about 12 minutes, and then drain well. Return potatoes to the pot and toss with butter and herbs. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
While potatoes are cooking, combine honey, bourbon, onion powder and garlic. Rub chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken, basting frequently with the honey-bourbon sauce and using the rosemary sprigs as a brush, until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes total.
Serve chicken with warm potatoes.
Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Marc Forgione and Bobby Deen, he now works on digital production for FoodNetwork.com, CookingChannelTV.com and Food.com in NYC by day and develops recipes at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following him on Twitter & Instagram at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.