Monday, March 14, 2011

Roasted Red Potatoes - The Easiest Recipe of Them All

Every now and then, we get a question from someone just learning to cook, asking which dishes we would suggest for beginners. My first answer is usually Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce, served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with fried egg on top and spam guacamole. Always edible and frequently divine, it’s tough to mess up, being a no-cook dish with four or five key ingredients. Plus, people love people who make guacamole. If the last census is to be believed, guac is responsible for 30% of all pregnancies, second only to playing Barry White albums on repeat.

But this post isn’t about guacamole. (Fooled you!) It’s about other stuff, starting with the rest of the easy recipe list. After guac, it goes like this: refried beans, eggs, salsa, banana ice cream, chili, soup, and finally, the reason we’re all here today, roasted potatoes.

Practically effortless and more reliable than even a good bra (trust me, guys), roasted potatoes are an all-natural alternative to frozen fries, tots, and various ephemera. The high temperature and longer cooking time produces soft and tender insides with a crisp outer skin, just like nature and the cavemen who invented fire intended. Children and non-children alike love roasted potatoes, and the spuds are suitable for, really, any kind of meal. Serve them for breakfast, second breakfast, brunch, lunch, dunch, dinner, or as a midnight snack, making sure you turn the oven off before you hop into bed with your bounty.

For everyday roasting, I dig red potatoes, though russets (Idaho) and Yukon golds are also quite nice. But reds - velvety with a skin that caramelizes ever-so-slightly - reds are a treat on par with good magazines at the dentist’s office, or your professor canceling a final because his kid got a carrot stuck up his nose. (Note: This actually happened.)

This recipe for Roasted Red Potatoes is about as basic as it gets. You can add some chili powder, cayenne, or minced herbs for effect (rosemary is suggested here), but there’s no real need unless you’re feeling inspired. Though I’ve never had any leftovers, I presume they’d hold up when reheated, and could provide an excellent base for home fries.

To sum: easy, tasty, versatile, healthy, and cheap (which: forgot to mention). Maybe they should be #1 on that Beginners list.


If these look like you’d have a bunch, then complete your easy meal with:

Roasted Red Potatoes
Serves 4

2 pounds (about 4 medium) red potatoes, scrubbed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary (optional)

1) Set rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.

2) Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Cut each half in lengthwise again. Cut each quarter into slices, from 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch in width.

3) In a medium bowl, combine potatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary if using. Stir thoroughly to combine. Pour on to baking sheet in a single layer, making sure to spread potatoes out so they roast and don’t steam.

4) Cook 20 minutes. Stir potatoes. Cook an additional 15-20 minutes, until sides are browned. Remove and serve hot.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
223 calories, 7 g fat, 3.9 g fiber, 4.3 g protein, $0.54

2 pounds (about 4 medium) red potatoes: 653 calories, 0.9 g fat, 15.4 g fiber, 17.1 g protein, $1.94
2 tablespoons olive oil: 239 calories, 27 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.21
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.01
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.01
TOTAL: 892 calories, 27.9 g fat, 15.4 g fiber, 17.1 g protein, $2.17
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 223 calories, 7 g fat, 3.9 g fiber, 4.3 g protein, $0.54

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Melis said...

A great tip I learned from Alton Brown: put the pan in the oven to preheat and add the chopped seasoned potatoes to the hot pan. It makes for a great crispy crust.

Claire Dawson said...

I have become an enthusiastic convert to the Cook's Illustrated method, which is almost the same, but for the first twenty minutes of roasting time, you cover the potatoes with foil, and then remove it for the last 15 or 20 minutes. (You can flip them for the last five or ten minutes, as well.) It's amazing, and they cook a lot more evenly, achieving levels of interior creaminess heretofore unknown to mankind.

Dee Seiffer said...

I love to roast potatoes in a cast iron skillet. They get even more crisp than on a baking sheet. My favorite seasoning then is Old Bay. said...

The trick is to make sure you use high-quality RED potatoes -- I tried this recipe once with "regular" potatoes, and the result was an extremely bland, boring meal.

Kris @ Health Blog said...

Those look very delicious, do you find that it makes any difference to use white potatoes instead of red ones?

Dmarie said...

oh, they look lovely! well done!

Kris said...

@Kris: I prefer reds to russets, since the latter tend to taste starchier than I like. Boiled or baked, no problem. Roasted - meh.

Tom said...

Would you suggest Red Potatoes for mashed potatoes? I'm a newer cook and have done this but wanted to see if you think it is worth using them over regular potatoes for this.

This is my first post here... but I wanted to comment and say that I have found many of your tips great... especially since I am just learning!

Kris said...

@Tom: I'd go with Yukon golds for mashed. They're creamy and buttery, and take well to most added ingredients.

Anonymous said...

My favorite way to roast red potatoes is this: Cut the potatoes in half, melt butter or margarine or olive oil in a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle the butter with parmesan cheese and some garlic powder. Put the potatoes cut side down on the cheese/butter (or oil) mixture. Bake until tender. The cut side comes out crispy with parmesan cheese and butter and the rest of the potato is creamy and tender and delicious.

This used to be a side dish but we've been know to serve this with a big salad and some fruit for dinner. Especially when I can get 5 lb. bags of red potatoes for 1.98.

Dawn said...

I just tried these last night, and I love the hint to preheat the pan. These were the best (and easiest...) roasted potatoes I've ever tried. Thanks for sharing this simple recipe!