Roasting potatoes is something that everyone needs to know how to do properly. They’re so easy to make, as well as versatile, but some people don’t like roasting potatoes because they often stick to the pan, have a gummy texture, or are too oily etc. etc.. Well I’m going to change all that for you right now. By the end of this post you’ll never make bad roasted potatoes again. Unless you burn them, but that’s on you. Check it.
If you never learn anything else from reading my posts, learn this. “Cold oil, hot pan.” Got it? Repeat it 3 times. Cold oil, hot pan. That’s the key to keeping food from sticking when working with cookware that isn’t nonstick. So when you’re gearing up to roast your potatoes, put your roasting pan inside the oven, without potatoes or oil on it, and preheat the oven to 425. Got that? So your pan is inside the oven while the oven is preheating. And once the oven has reached 425, you should let the pan sit in there for another 10 minutes at that heat, to make sure it’s really heated. I cannot overstate the importance of this step. I promise you, this one tip will change your life. And this applies to all kinds of food and cooking vessels, such as grills, cast-iron skillets and whatever else. Cold oil, hot pan.
Once the pan is in the oven, cut your potatoes and put them in a strainer and rinse well with water.
I usually do 1.25 potatoes per person, depending on their size (the potato’s size, not the person – though that could apply as well). The rinsing step is also very important. Some day I’ll write a post about what happens to different types of nutrients (carbs, proteins, fats, etc) when heat is introduced. It’s quite fascinating, and really helpful when trying to achieve certain textures with your food. But for today, we’re going to talk quickly about starches. When a starch is introduced to heat, it turns to gelatin. Like, jello. If you’ve ever made gummy potatoes, it’s probably because they weren’t rinsed. When you cut a potato, it releases some of the starch, which gathers along the cut edges. Leaving that starch on the potato while it cooks will turn the starch to gelatin, and give the potato a gummy texture. Rinsing the potato allows the potato to get crispy on the outside, which is way more enjoyable.
After rinsing, dry your potatoes with a paper towel and place in a ziplock bag. Add a bit of oil and toss to coat. The great thing about using a ziplock bag is you don’t have to add much oil. If you’re cooking 4 medium sized potatoes, you probably only need a couple tablespoons of oil. Add kosher salt and black pepper to the bag and toss again.
Quick note on kosher salt. If you don’t already use kosher salt, I really encourage you to start. Iodized salt should be saved for baking, and that’s about it. We actually use a special sea salt for health reasons, but I prefer kosher salt for cooking, and once you try it you’ll never go back. I’m serious, it makes a huge difference.
Next, take the hot pan out of the oven, dump the potatoes from the bag onto the pan, and spread evenly. It’s going to hiss, which is what you want. It’s very important that the potatoes be in one layer. Don’t have potatoes stacked up, or they’ll be soggy. If you’re cooking for a large group of people, then put the potatoes on two pans, and place one oven rack two spaces down from the top of your oven, and the other two spaces up from the bottom. Cook the potatoes for 10 minutes, then move the pan from the top rack to the bottom and vice versa. Do this again at 20 minutes, and again at 30, until the potatoes are golden brown. If only cooking one pan of potatoes, put the oven rack two spaces down from the top, and cook for about 20 minutes. But keep an eye on them and remove them once golden brown. So if they don’t look done at 20, leave them in.
|Potatoes spaced evenly|
|Potatoes roasted. To perfection, I might add|
Boom, a basic roasted potato you can use for anything, and you can season them up however you want. Speaking of seasoning, you’ll recall that this is the second part of our crispy pork belly and roasted potatoes with kale pesto dish. So, kale pesto. Here’s what you need:
|sea salt, extra-virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, kale (thick rib parts removed), garlic, lemon, fresh pepper|
Usually I make pesto in a food processor, but with kale pesto I like it a bit rustic, so I chop it with a knife. Until it looks like this:
From there, just mix the stuff together, in these amounts (scaled to meet your party size):
• 1 Cup chopped kale (please be sure you wash the kale really well – kale is notorious for hiding little bugs)
• 1.5 Tbsp finely-grated parmesan cheese
• 1 medium garlic clove, minced (I use a garlic press)
• 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
• Pinch salt
• 2 Grinds pepper
• About 2-3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil. I say “about” because I didn’t measure. Just add some, stir around, add more, stir around until it looks like this:
Make the pesto while the potatoes are roasting, then toss them together in a bowl once the potatoes are done, like so:
And plate like so:
That’s all she wrote. Not too hard, right? These potatoes totally stand on their own as a side dish for all kinds of things, but if you need a reminder, here’s what the final dish looked like with the crispy pork belly:
Only thing left for this dish is to top it with the black currant sauce (dried black currants simmered in 1/3 part sugar to 1 part water, plus 1/4 part balsamic vinegar).
I wanted to share the potatoes separately, because I don’t want anyone to feel locked into the pork belly. Don’t get me wrong, the pork belly is awesome, but it’s not always doable. So use these potatoes however you like! Maybe as part of a special dinner for Mother’s Day this weekend or something. No matter when you pull this out, you can now feel confident in your ability to make the perfect, roasted potato.