Drinking Responsibly: Potato Tea at Betony
by Lisa Elbert, Tastemaker in Residence
It’s 2016, and waste reduction is #trending. Chefs are driven by more than just what they put on the plate. They’re driven by what they don’t. “Responsibility is something we talk about a lot at the restaurant—responsibility to each other, to our guests, to the ingredients themselves, to the environment,” says Chef Bryce Shuman of New York’s Betony. “One thing that came out of the discussion is that we don’t want to throw food in the garbage.”
Betony’s menu requires about 30 pounds of potatoes per day. Instead of sending the peels to the bin, they arrive tableside as an amuse bouche at the Michelin-starred restaurant. “It’s very simple. I have a responsibility to take care of ingredients, like that potato, to allow it to serve its purpose, which is to feed us,” says Shuman, who roasts and soaks the peels to make 65 portions of potato tea per service. He fulfills his responsibility with a 4-ounce pour of Potato Tea and Thyme. Here’s the breakdown:
- Thoroughly wash 10 Russet potatoes and peel, reserving peels in a mixing bowl. “I get a lot more peel off of a Russet, and it has more flavor.”
- Add 3 drops of grapeseed oil and season with a touch of salt
- Transfer peels to a half-sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 300°F, 10 to 15 minutes. Flip peels and bake 10 minutes more until dry, crispy, and dark brown (but not burned.)
- Transfer peels into the bottom of a third pan, and break them up so they lay flat. Bring 3 cups of water to a simmer, and pour it over the peels. Cover with parchment.
- Transfer peels back into the oven for 30 to 45 minutes. Strain through a fine cloth or linen, and taste for seasoning. “If it doesn’t taste strong enough like roasted potato, reduce the liquid until it does.”
- Season with salt, add a few sprigs thyme and a small clove of garlic and steep 30 seconds; strain.
- Into a glass with a tea bag of fresh thyme, pour 4 ounces of Potato Tea tableside.