Flavor Tip: Add Fresh Herbs to the Water When Boiling Potatoes

I mentioned earlier that I was at a potato workshop last week, watching some great chefs play around with potatoes. Here's one simple, effective idea from San Francisco chef Gary Danko, one that turns plain boiled potatoes into something special.

It's a simple tip:

When boiling potatoes, whole or chopped (see our best tips here for boiling potatoes) throw in whole sprigs of fresh herbs and let them simmer in the water along with the potatoes.

Chef Danko cooked this pot of potatoes with bunches of thyme and tarragon, and I was surprised at how much I could taste them both in the cooked potatoes. The tarragon came through especially nicely; the herb seemed to have completely suffused the potatoes with its delicate flavor.

I thought this was such a simple, easy idea, and one that can perk up plain boiled potatoes, dressed with a little olive oil and salt. But it also has potential in other dishes. Think about boiling your potatoes with a huge bunch of rosemary, then whipping them into mashed potatoes with a sprinkle of black pepper. Yummy, right?! I can even see adding some lavender to the cooking water, or lemon verbena.

Have you ever tried this before?

Related: How to Bake a Potato: Three Easy Methods

(Images: Faith Durand)