The Mediterranean nation of Greece is famous for its philosophical and culinary festivals. Although many of the country’s gastronomic offerings date back several thousand years, Greek potatoes are a rather childish development, as the tubers weren’t introduced to the country from the New World until the 18th century. After that, the recipe took hold as a simple combination of fried and seasoned potato wedges tarted with lemon juice.
Greek potatoes are often served with spiced grilled chicken.
It was Count Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first leader of modern, independent Greece, who introduced potatoes to the Greek population in the early 19th century. Vegetables were a staple food in South America, where his country and many other European countries were exploring for future conquests. Kapodistrias rightly believed that potatoes could help end famine in his flourishing country, and he was right. As of 2011, the tuber is grown throughout the region as a common staple in many daily diets.
Potatoes were not introduced to Greece from the New World until the 18th century.
Also known as patates lemonades or “lemon potatoes,” Greek potatoes are a native version of a staple recipe. The dish does not require much effort to prepare. The first step is to cut the potatoes into small, thin wedges while the oven is preheating to about 425°F (218°C). Some chefs boil the slices for about five minutes in water, then blanch them in a bowl of ice water before cooking begins; others simply dress them with vinaigrette and let the oven do all the work.
It’s the dressing that turns Greek potatoes into a distinctive native delicacy. A combination of lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, shallots or onions, salt, pepper, parsley, and oregano are tossed through the potato slices before roasting begins. Some, like celebrity chef Bobby Flay, also add chicken broth to the bottom of the pan before cooking, which is a method of preventing sticking and imparting extra flavor.
It takes about 45 minutes in the oven for Greek potatoes to acquire their characteristic golden appearance. However, if left alone, only some of the potatoes will be brown enough. For this reason, many chefs toss the potatoes mid-bake to double the areas exposed to dry heat.
Additional vinaigrette is sprinkled on the Greek potatoes before serving, along with some fresh raw parsley. A cold variation is called patatosalata or “potato salad.” This involves peeled potato wedges that are simply boiled until tender, then mixed with the lemon juice, garlic, onion, oil, and seasonings.