A friend in the South of France once served me new potatoes that had been steamed over a huge bed of wild thyme branches, a lovely way to cook them. Back home I use this method: put the unpeeled potatoes in a wide pot with an inch or two of water, then add a handful of aromatic herbs and spices. Over a high flame, the small potatoes cook quickly in a fragrant, steamy bath. Now, will it be sweet butter? fruity olive oil? or crème fraîche?
Scrub the potatoes but do not peel. Put the thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, peppercorns, and garlic cloves in a wide heavy pot. Add the potatoes in one layer and enough water to barely cover. Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt, about 2 teaspoons.
Turn off the heat and leave the potatoes for at least 10 minutes, or up to half an hour. To serve, drain the potatoes and put them in a serving bowl, with the aromatics still clinging to them.
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