Sometimes, things are just meant to be. Peanut butter and jelly are meant to be devoured together. I was meant to go see the Backstreet Boys concert last year to rekindle the guilty pleasures of my adolescence. And I was meant to make crispy roasted potatoes.
Remember me mentioning a few weeks ago about my struggles to replicate a roasted potatoes dish that I fell in love with in England? A few days later, out of the blue, I found a sample copy of Cook’s Illustrated in my mailbox. I didn’t subscribe to it, but I knew the content would be good because it’s published by America’s Test Kitchen. I quickly thumbed through the pages, and I kid you not, it landed on the recipe titled, “Really Crisp Roasted Potatoes.” It felt as if there was a culinary force out there willing for this moment to happen. Welcome to crispy roasted potatoes, part deux.
To my relief, I found out that I wasn’t doing anything grievously wrong. It was just…not enough.
First, the recipe says to cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch slices, and not chunks or cubes. There’s nothing inherently wrong with chunks, they’re just more difficult to flip and turn during the baking process. For those of you who, like me, can’t eyeball what a 1/2 inch looks like, it was about the width of my pinky.
Then, the taters need to be par boiled. YES, got this step the first time around! There’s a complicated scientific explanation for why it’s important to boiling the potatoes slightly first. Let’s just stick to this: there’s some starch molecules that need to come out for a big party and settle on the surface of the potato. When the potatoes enter the oven, those starches will help the potatoes get a nice golden tan.
Next, roughing it. Those slightly boiled potatoes need to be roughed up a bit so that the moisture in the potatoes evaporate faster. The magazine suggested tossing the potatoes in a large bowl with a spatula to rough up the surface. I prefer putting it back into the pot and shaking it up. It’s much more fun, plus the whole pot turns into a percussive instrument.
Finally, you have to put the potatoes in a hot oven and bake them for a while. That’s where I messed up big time during my previous trial. When I say hot, I mean 450 degrees F kind of hot. The potatoes also need a longer tan—closer to 40 minutes instead of the 25 minutes I gave it last time.
There you have it, a pan of lovely gold coins definitely worth making in your kitchen.
Spicy Crispy Roasted Potatoes
- 2 pounds (900g) Yukon gold potatoes
- 5 TBS olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp Japanese seven-spice, chili powder works also
- 1 tsp onion powder
- Rinse the potatoes, and slice them into 1/2-inch thick rounds. It’s probably about the width of your pinky.
- Adjust the racks in your oven, and slide one into the lowest rack. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Placee a large rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack as the oven heats up.
- Mix a 1/2 teaspoon salt, spice, and onion powder together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Place the potatoes in a medium pot, and fill it with water, until it is about an inch above the potatoes. Add a teaspoon of salt in the pot. Bring the water to boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let the potatoes simmer for about 4 to 5 minutes. You want the potatoes to be able to pierce the outer part of the potatoes, but the potatoes should not crumble to pieces.
- Drain the water and return the potatoes to the pot. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil, place the lid on the pot, and give it a good shake. Add another 2 tablespoons of oil and the spices, place the lid on top of the pot, and shake again. The surface should look a bit powdery.
- Take the heated baking sheet from the oven and pour the remaining oil over it. Swirl the oil around so that it covers more surface area of the baking sheet. Line the potatoes on top of the baking sheet in a single layer. Let the potatoes bake for 10 minutes and rotate the entire baking sheet. Check to see if the bottoms are browned yet. Bake for about another 10 minutes. Take the potatoes out and flip them over with tongs or a spatula. Bake the potatoes for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown.
- Let the potatoes cool for a few minutes before serving.
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