Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Potato Roasting in Great Detail

After a pleasant visit from my parents with lots of exciting food, I made a very simple dinner of roast potatoes with pesto. The combination (born of a need to use up some basil) is good, but what I want to share is my current potato roasting technique. Everybody cooks this, so chime in if you've got a nice method. The basic summary of what I do: low heat until they're cooked through, high heat for ten minutes or so. It's not really worthy of being called a recipe, but if it makes my potatoes crunchier it's good for something.

  • potatoes in 1-inch chunks (or anything sized consistently)
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, rosemary

Put the potatoes in a large pan, or in multiple large pans, so that they're in a single layer and not completely packed up against each other. Mix them up with the oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Put in a 350 degree oven until the potatoes are soft. It's okay if they're not done to the point that you could eat them happily, but you should be able to eat them. This takes me 40-60 minutes, depending on the potatoes and the oven and mysterious forces (potatoes seem to cook faster in Lindsay's presence, for example). Ideally, try to scrape up all the potatoes from the pan every 15 minutes or so; a metal spatula works best. Turn the heat up to 450 and cook the potatoes until they're golden, which should take 10-15 minutes. Stir them once or twice and check on them when you do.

You can vary the seasoning and the fat. In the winter something like garam masala is nice instead of rosemary. Other pleasant fats include peanut oil, lard, and duck fat, and even a totally neutral oil like canola makes delicious potatoes. I would have thought that more oil meant crispier potatoes, but in my experience it hasn't been true. If the potatoes end up dried out, or if you're just in a hurry, try roasting at 375 and 475 instead of 350 and 450. You really can't go wrong whatever you do.


Seth said...

Cassie asks, "What about butter?"

Toby said...

I've never done it, though I can't imagine how it could fail. You could put the butter in the pan and then the pan in the oven for 30 seconds while it's preheating, thus melting the butter and making it easy to toss with the potatoes.