Because who doesn’t love crisp roasted potatoes? No one, that’s who. NO ONE.
This recipe takes a little bit of time to execute and, if you live in a small apartment with a sensitive smoke detector, can cause some alarm to your neighbors, but you will be rewarded with hot little discs that are salty and crunchy on the outside and fluffy and buttery on the inside. It’s almost like a biting into a crisped up disc of mashed potatoes, but there’s no mashing involved.
What we have at work here is concept #26: Potato Starches Can Be Controlled. When potatoes are cooked the starch granules swell greatly and burst, causing the potatoes to become gluey. This is bad news for mashed potatoes, but because the extra starch converts to sugar, we can take advantage of it by using it to promote browning on the surface of sliced potatoes for roasting, via the Maillard reaction (more on that in the future).
Here, Yukon Golds are used because they have the perfect combination of moisture and starch to get us the crisp exterior and soft interior we want. This recipe is nothing more than potatoes, kosher salt, pepper, and olive oil, but the trick is in what you do with them.
First, preheat the oven to 450°. Take 1¼ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (I halved the original recipe) and cut them into ½-inch thick slices. Place them in a Dutch oven or large skillet and cover them with cold water and ½ tablespoon kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and let the potatoes simmer about 5 minutes, until the exteriors have softened slightly. Drain the potatoes and transfer them to a bowl. (By parcooking the potatoes, you allow the starch granules to begin to swell and, because the potatoes are already hot, browning and crisping begins immediately in the oven.)
Now it’s all about roughing up the surface to encourage the starch and create a craggy surface so that moisture evaporates more readily. To do this, drizzle the potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Using a rubber spatula, toss to combine. Repeat with another tablespoon oil and ¼ kosher teaspoon salt. Toss for 1-2 minutes, until the exteriors are starchy.
At this point you’re supposed to have had a foil-lined baking sheet preheating in the oven, but when I did that, the aforementioned smoke detector went off. #SmallApartmentProblems, am I right? Well, preheat your baking sheet if you can, otherwise make do and just spread the oiled and salted potatoes on the sheet, making sure each potato lies flat, ends skin side up. Bake the potatoes until the bottoms are golden and crisp, 15-25 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. Using a spatula and tongs, flip the potatoes over and bake 10-20 minutes more, rotating the sheet halfway through.
When finished, you should have gloriously browned golden potatoes. Season them with pepper and a little salt, if you find they need them, and serve them with your meal of choice. I went with the steamed trout of a few weeks ago, but I can easily imagine pairing them with steak or pork chops or roast chicken. I think I have my Sunday dinner accompaniment picked out for me for awhile…