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Secret to great roasted potatoes

What's your secret? My mother-in-law made great ones, but she is no longer around to ask.

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    1. I roast on high heat 425-450 for 25-40 min (depending on the size you cut) - did one the other night with little reds, when they came out - tossed with blue cheese and chives. I liked it alot.

      1. I adapt Alice Water's superb roast potatoes -- olive oil, thyme (I throw in whole sprigs) and garlic cloves, S&P and a splash of water -- by covering w/ aluminum foil for first 1/2 hour, and then uncovering for remainder. That way potatoes cook all the way through but have time to brown/crisp up. And the aromatics steaming together makes one fine spud! Make sure there's plenty of room so uncovered the potatoes roast, not steam. 400-425 degrees is about right.

        4 Replies
        1. re: NYchowcook

          Parboiling them first.

          That way, they're done in no time and brown to a nice crisp. Toss them after parboiling with olive oil and spices, spread in a glass casserole dish, pop in the oven, and you're good to go.

          1. re: dolores

            Right - and I'll add this. When you toss them with the olive oil and whatnot, don't be gentle. Roughing them up a bit will give the exterior a nice crunchy texture when you roast them.

            1. re: dolores

              Make it faster: Par-nuke them first. Much less mess and time involved. This is also THE key to oven fries of the regular or sweet-potato variety.

              And also salt them before cooking. Potatoes cooked without salt are inedible to me (and unfortunately, I have a lot of them -- neither my father nor sister add any salt at all in home cooking).

              1. re: dolores

                Agree. Parboil or parnuke. But in order for them to really crisp up, you need to make sure they're as dry as possible before roasting. I put them in the preheating oven for a couple of minutes just to dry them out. I toss the potatoes with the oil and a head of garlic cloves that have also been parboiled in a cast iron skillet. I do that on top of the stove until they're really well coated, nestle in a sprig or two of rosemary, then put the skillet in a 450F oven for 30 to 40 minutes. I suspect it's because of the way it retains heat, but the cast iron skillet makes the crispiest potatoes ever.

            2. Here's what I do (similar to Zuni's):

              Cut about 1.5 lbs med sized red or gold potatoes into quarters, put in cold water to cover by about an inch--add two bay leaves and 1 tablespoon of salt. When water comes to boil, boil 6-8 mins (while boiling, preheat oven and casserole at 425-450). Drain and drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil, add about 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2tsp pepper, 1-2 sprigs of bruised rosemary (bang it with the side of your knife), about 1/2 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder (don't use fresh it'll burn), 1/2 tsp onion powder and 1/2 tsp dry thyme and marjoram. Mix well and place in preheated casserole and roast at 450 for 10 mins, lower to 425 and let roast another 20 mins. They can be kept warm for about a half hour at 175. I use my toaster oven to make these, since I usually make them at the same time as my roast chicken. I've found that the chicken doesn't get as crisp if I do them in the same oven.

              This recipe makes some of the tastiest potatoes that I've ever had. Highly recommend.

              1. My sister in law cooked the best roasties I can remember on Christmas Day. She'd par-boiled, given them a good shake in the pan to rough up the edges, then roasted in goose fat.


                And she'd made loads too many - so I went back and kept nibbling on cold ones throughout the day. Equally fabulous.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Harters

                  Yes - second the par boiling and roughing up the edges. Get the right type of potatoes (not too waxy not too floury). Preheat oven - 180c in my fan oven (400F in normal non-convection oven?). Peel potatoes and cut into even size chunks (the size you want to eat!). Place in cold salted water just to cover. Bring to boil, lower heat to minimum and cover. Set timer for five minutes. Place a TBSP or two of olive oil/fat (amount of fat depends on how many potatoes) in a roasting tray. Use two trays if you are making loads - the potatoes need to roast not steam. Heat tray(s) with oil for the 5 minutes whilst potatoes are parboiling. After parboil, drain, return cover and give a good shake to rough up edges. Get hot tray(s) with hot oil from oven and toss potatoes about in the oil. Add sea salt (e.g.Maldon) and poss herbs (e.g. rosemary). Roast in oven for 25-30 minutes (fan oven - longer for regular oven - also depends on how big the pieces are of course). You can turn potatoes halfway through - mostly I don't bother!

                  To make this story shorter - keys are: right variety of potato, parboil, rough edges, hot potatoes to hot fat.

                  1. re: themags

                    Or, to save you the trouble themags, just do what I said 2 posts ago.

                    1. re: hankstramm

                      It's not "trouble" to post. For me roast potatoes are potatoes, fat and salt. Nothing like what you posted!

                2. Maybe just me, but never had to par boil. I just cut the red potatoes in quarters, a simple toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. I tear off the leaves of 4 or 5 thyme stems, a couple of stems of rosemary or you can use dry if you don't have fresh and I add a little fresh garlic 1 teaspoon or so. toss well. I cook mine on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (no cleanup) and on 400 to 425 for 30 to 40 minutes depending on how many you are making. I have always had rave reviews, I love them and they are simple and perfect every time.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: kchurchill5

                    I do almost exactly the same thing, except I cut the red potatoes into very small pieces to ensure maximum crispiness. No parboiling. I toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary and roast at 400 for about 40 minutes. I use my Williams Sonoma gold-touch cookie sheet and the potatoes come out great.

                    1. re: kchurchill5

                      I don't parboil either. Just cut up red potatoes into two-bite size, put them in a pyrex dish that's larger than needed for the potatoes, add a few pats of butter, salt & pepper, and put into a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Toss the potatoes after a couple of minutes to coat with the butter, then again after another maybe 15 minutes. I like to expose all sides to the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, take a jumbo white onion and chop into large pieces. After the 30 minutes is up, add the onions to the potatoes (this is why you need a large dish), a little more salt and pepper, and roast for another 20 to 30 minutes, tossing the mixture after about 15 minutes. They're done when the potatoes are crispy on the outside and the onions are soft and slightly caramelized. Using red potatoes results in a very creamy interior, a crisp exterior, and the onions add a beautiful sweetness. We could eat these every night. I will sometimes add a little rosemary, but not usually. And I only use the really huge white onions. They have really thick layers which can stand up to the heat, and they turn oh so sweet when roasted. I rarely buy any other kind.

                    2. Here's what I do: instead of parboiling, scrub potatoes and soak them for 15 minutes in salted water. (I got this idea from Deborah Madison.) Then drain, pat dry, and roast according to whatever roasting algorithm you like (I do olive oil, whole unpeeled garlic cloves, fresh thyme, 425 degree oven, 25 minutes, more time if necessary). This works well, especially with small potatoes that can be roasted whole.

                      1. I like to roast them under a chicken...so that the chicken fat and juices fall into them

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: xanadude

                          That's a rather schmaltzy idea. That's similar ATK's version of pollo al mattone.

                            1. re: jlafler

                              parboil, fluff up, roll into and around a tray of smoking goose fat flavoured with rosemary and skin on garlic cloves.

                              job done.

                        2. I put this in the other thread, but thought I'd add it here as well. This isn't actually 'roasted' potatoes, but just as good, no, even better. I take smallish red potatoes...or white work too, and I boil them whole, in their skins. You can add your favourite seasonings to the water. When they are tender, drain, put back into pot and 'dry' by putting back on the burner and shaking. Take a heavy, large (preferably cast-iron) skillet, put in about 1/4 " of your favourite fat...I usually use half clarified butter and half olive oil, but am going to try goose fat next time. Heat the oil to sizzling, add potatoes and 'smush' them with a spatula. Add salt and fresh-ground pepper to the tops plus anything else you'd like (garlic powder?). Cook until the bottoms are nice and crispy, then flip, 'smoosh' a bit more and cook till the other side is crispy too. Drain on paper towels for just a sec, serve IMMEDIATELY!! I sometimes also make a pan of caramalised onions and a pan of sauteed mushrooms. That can make an entire meal for me. I love to take a bite of the onions along with a bite of the potato...YUM!!! You really should try this, you always get a nice crispy crust along with a creamy inside. And, yeah, I know that's a really high-fat meal when you add the onions and mushrooms, but it's not like I do it every day. It's a 'splurge', and the potatoes are wonderful just served like the roasted potatoes as a side.

                          1. Small Red Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes - cut to 1" - 1/2".
                            Toss w/OO (don't skimp), S&P, a touch of garlic paste, thyme and rosemary.
                            HEAVY gauge, high quality, non-stick, metal pan.
                            DON'T CROWD IN PAN (<--key, otherwise they sweat and don't crisp up).
                            Blast them at 425 - 450 until brown and CRISPY (toss once or twice while roasting).
                            Grab a friend and eat them all in one sitting. :)