Monday, August 31, 2009

Roasted New Potatoes

I'm not usually a snob about my cooking... I'm a novice home cook and I know it. I am fully aware that even a poor restaurant chef could cook rings around me. However... and this is a big however... I'm not sure a single one of 'em knows how to properly roast potatoes... or at least, if they do know, they never do it that way. I can't ever remember not being disappointed by roast potatoes I've been served out... and that includes the ones from Chase's Daily mentioned below... they were above average, but still too dry inside and not crisp enough outside. I feel very strongly that the perfect roasted potato piece has a crisp browned crust and a moist interior... almost like a baked potato. You simply cannot achieve this in one step in a skillet... and I don't care what those fancy French people say... if you want to do it that way you have to... I dunno... parboil them first maybe... it works with home fries after all. It's possible that there are people who can skillet roast potatoes to perfection, but if they exist they haven't served their potatoes to me... nor have I ever been satisfied with my own attempts in a skillet. You'll just have to trust me here... try it this way, and I don't think you'll be disappointed. I should note that this is a New Best Recipe... uhm... recipe... not my own creation, but I heartily endorse its awesomeness.

To get perfect roasted potatoes, you've got to oven roast. This takes a lot longer than in the skillet... and you have to heat up your whole house with the oven... but by the time potatoes are hitting your farmers' market it's cooling down a bit, so I don't think the latter is a huge problem, and with the former I think the final product is worth the extra time it takes.

You need about 2 lbs of potatoes... and the smaller the better... not because of flavor, but because it means less cutting. If you don't have colorful new potatoes available then use baby reds. For that two pounds of potatoes you'll need 3 tablespoons of EVOO. Some salt. Some pepper. A big roasting pan(i.e. 17x13) and some aluminum foil. I prefer a non-stick roasting pan because that makes it easier to flip the potatoes without leaving most of them stuck to the pan... but anything will work.

Preheat the oven to 425 and move a rack to the middle.

For larger potatoes you need to halve them and then cut them into 3/4" wedges... on the smaller side you quarter... the very smallest just halve. To make sure I don't overcrowd I put them into the pan as I'm cutting them like so:

Ooooooh... look at all the pretty colors! I actually did a pretty bad job with my cutting... going a bit too small on some... you want them to be fairly thick so that you get a nice creamy interior.

Drizzle the 3 tablespoons of oil on them. Toss. Season with salt and pepper. Toss again. Arrange them so they all have their own personal space (one of the cut sides down) and then cover the pan with aluminum foil.

Put them in the oven for 20 minutes. This right here is the key to the whole endeavor. With the foil on they steam from their own moisture, get nice and soft, but don't brown at all.

Now take off the foil and put them back in the oven until the first side browns... about 15 minutes. Take the pan out and flip all the potatoes with a spatula... like I mentioned above, they tend to stick to the pan so you have to be somewhat gentle when you pry them up, so that they don't tear apart.

Then put them back until the second side is browned... which will only take 5-10 minutes.

And voilĂ : Roasted New Potatoes.

You can obviously spice things up by tossing them with herbs or whatever after you are done, but I figured I stick to the basics. Now, I'll grant you that you can't whip these up on a whim like skillet roasted potatoes, but I promise they're well worth it... and they're really just time, not labor, intensive... as it's a very simple and easy recipe.

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