When I came across some purple jester potatoes at the market I couldn’t help but grab a couple of big handfuls and think about what to do with them when I got home. Admittedly they did sit in the fridge for a few days before I got cooking. Initially I sliced a few to fan over my rabbit pie but they lost their colour and became soggy. That idea was scrapped. The next attempt is this simple method of roasting them hasselback style, tarted up with a colourful beetroot and pepperberry salt I created.
The pepperberry is a spice native to Tasmania, Victoria and parts of New South Wales where the leaves and berries are generally used when dried. The berries contain three times more antioxidants than blueberries and, when dried, have a strong pepper-like flavour with a hint of perfume and aroma. The closest I can compare it to is sichuan pepper, just not as pungent. I picked mine up from Herbies Spices in Rozelle, Sydney.
Squeeze the grated beetroot into a bowl to produce a little juice. Use rubber gloves if you wish, otherwise it can stain your hands.
In a small mixing bowl combine the rock salt, ground pepperberry, pink peppercorns and 1 teaspoon of the beetroot juice. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Leaving the skin on the potatoes, slice vertical cuts into each potato about 2 mm apart, making sure not to cut all the way through. Spread about 1 teaspoon of the coconut oil over the cuts on each potato, place on a roasting tray and bake until cooked through. Baste with the coconut oil during cooking to encourage a little crisping. The cooking time will vary on the size of the potatoes. They can take between 30 minutes and an hour. Sometimes even longer.
While the potatoes are baking, grind the salt in a mortar until powdery.
As soon as the potatoes are cooked, remove them from the oven, sprinkle with the beetroot salt and serve.