Turn Your Side Dish Into a Main Event With These Spiced Skillet Potatoes

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Baby potatoes get sautéed in spices and served with a creamy buttermilk sauce. Morgan Eisenberg

Most people think of potatoes as an accompaniment to the main event. Not me. Whether they're steamed, baked, mashed, buttered, or fried, I'll eat every last bite of my potatoes before I even notice the main course sitting next to them. While I've never met a potato I didn't like, my absolute favorite kind is velvety inside, crispy outside, and perfectly seasoned, just like these spiced skillet potatoes with a buttermilk-herb sauce.

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I use baby Yukon gold and red bliss potatoes, but any waxy potatoes that are high in moisture will give you a really creamy potato interior. I like the small size here, too, since you can keep the potatoes whole and still bite-size.

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Here's the basic idea: First, I boil the potatoes to give them moist and tender flesh. Then I drop them in a hot skillet to crisp the skins. I hit them with a generous sprinkling of spices for lots of flavor, and finish it all with a tangy, creamy sauce that cools everything down while adding even more moisture.

For the spices, I'm using a Cajun-style mix of blackening spices like smoked paprika, cumin, garlic and onion powders, and dried oregano. Unlike a lot of recipes with blackening spices, I don't rub the potatoes with them before cooking, since they won't stick to the skins well and are prone to burning. Instead, I sprinkle the spices on after sautéing the potatoes in butter and oil. The spices bloom in the fat, releasing their flavors, and also sticking to the potatoes more easily. The spices that don't stick to the potatoes blacken in the pan just enough, imparting a smoky, spicy, slightly bitter taste to the potatoes that goes perfectly with the richness of the sauce.

Making that sauce couldn't be easier. I mix together buttermilk, sour cream, and a little vinegar. Then I stir in garlic, salt, and, most importantly, a hefty amount of mixed herbs. I typically use dill, chives, and parsley, but you can use others here, like tarragon or basil. Lightly toasted rosemary and sage would work well too.

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I pour the sauce directly over the crispy potatoes and serve them in the skillet with plenty of fresh herbs to garnish, but you could just as well keep the sauce on the side if you prefer to dip instead.

Let's be real: It doesn't matter how you plate them. These babies aren't lasting long either way.

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