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One of my favorites chefs on radio Melinda Lee says: this dish is a meal in itself. Great with only a simple salad alongside -- and it's also makes just a wonderful appetizer (especially if there will be a wait before dinner: these are filling). On the other hand, the potatoes are described in the new book by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby as being a perfect accompaniment to a big, juicy steak. Take your pick -- try them every which way -- and enjoy!
- Build a medium hot fire.
- When you can hold your hand about 5 inches above the grill where the fire is hottest for about 4-5 seconds, the fire is ready.
- If using a gas grill, use the same technique to determine when you have preheated the grill to the correct temperature.
- Cut a thin slice off each long side of each potato, so you can lay it flat.
- Now cut each potato in half, lengthwise, to make two “planks” each about 1 1/2" thick.
- [No need to peel the potatoes, unless you want to; they’ll cook fine unpeeled.]
- In a large pot or pan, bring salted water to a boil, add potatoes, and simmer them for about 8-9 minutes, or until the pieces are just done, but still quite firm.
- If a toothpick is inserted into one, it should go in easily, but meet with a fair amount of resistance.
- Gently transfer the potatoes to a colander to drain.
- While the potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon in a small skillet over medium heat until crisp (about 6-8 minutes).
- Transfer the cooked bacon to paper towels or newspaper or a brown paper bag to drain.
- Rub the cut potato “planks” (pieces) generously with the olive oil.
- Sprinkle them generously on all sides with the salt and pepper.
- Place the pieces on the hot grill and cook until they have become really crispy and brown – about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
- Serve topped with sour cream, and sprinkled with the bacon and cut chives.
- (Add butter if desired.) Variations: Add toppings such as grated or shredded cheese, chopped chiles, avocado chunks, tomatoes – or anything else that seems interesting to you.
- You might offer a choice of toppings and let guests build their own!