In 1878 the discovery of a new variety of potato, christened the Jersey Royal Fluke, changed this small British island's potato harvests from that point on.
Until the discovery of the Royal, a selection of potatoes had been grown on the island. Then one day a Jersey farmer, Hugh de la Haye, spotted two enormous potatoes displayed on the counter in a local store. Hugh de la Haye purchased them and took them home. That evening, he invited some friends over for dinner. After the meal he showed them the two huge potatoes, one of which had 15 ‘eyes’.
The friends cut this particular potato into sixteen pieces which they took and planted on a ‘côtil’ above Bellozanne valley (a côtil in Jersey is a steeply sloping field, often overlooking the sea.).
The following spring, they produced a large and early crop. Strangely, though the parent potatoes and most of the new crop were round, one plant produced nothing but uniquely kidney-shaped potatoes. And with this, the Jersey Royal was born. It was carefully nurtured and developed to produce the later varieties of Jersey Royals which now account for almost half of Jersey’s income from all agricultural products.
The Jersey Royal season runs from March until July and is one of the highlights of our British grazing calendar.
In celebration of this wonderfully knobby potato, we have created this simple and delicious recipe that celebrates the best of the Spring harvest.
2 Properly Free Range chicken breasts
2 handfuls of cooked jersey royals
2 tbsps capers
1 bunch of asparagus
A couple of sprigs of rosemary
A large knob of butter
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Take an ovenproof frying pan and place on a medium heat. Caramelise the chicken breasts, skin side down until they have turned golden brown.
To the pan add the butter, allowing it to heat up and foam a little, before adding the jersey royal potatoes, anchovies, capers, rosemary and asparagus.
Using the back of a spoon break the anchovies until they have dissolved into the butter. Then place the whole pan into the oven for 10 minutes.
Carefully take the pan out of the oven and baste the chicken in the foaming butter.
Remove the chicken and leave it to rest while you plate up the rest of the ingredients. Slice the chicken straight down the middle, pile the potatoes and asparagus alongside and then pour over the rich butter.