How to Roast the Best Potatoes of Your Life
I’m going to show you how to make the most incredibly crispy and crunchy roast potatoes that I have ever had. It uses a little bit of food science, a little bit of technique, but it’s all pretty straightforward, simple stuff. Here’s how we do it.
Start by adding an ounce of salt to two quarts of boiling water along with a half teaspoon of baking soda, then add four pounds of Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes cut into large chunks. Boiling the potatoes before baking them helps moisture escape faster, leading to a thicker crust.
Adding them to already boiling water concentrates this effect on their outer edges. But why the baking soda? The potato on the left, here, was boiled and acidic water before baking. It has a smoother surface and a relatively low crunch. The potato on the right, on the other hand, was boiled in water with baking soda, which is alkaline. This causes pectin, the potato cellular glue, to break down, resulting in more surface area and higher crunch. Boil those potatoes until a knife easily pierces them and the exteriors are falling apart, about 10 minutes or so.
While those potatoes are boiling, make a flavored garlic and herb oil by heating five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a skillet along with a handful of chopped fresh rosemary and three cloves of minced or pressed fresh garlic. Season it with salt and pepper. Then cook the mixture over medium heat until the garlic just begins to turn golden brown. Then immediately strain it all out into a large bowl. Infusing the oil like this allows you to get the flavor from the herbs and garlic into the potatoes but ensures that they don’t burn while the potatoes roast. Now it’s time to get a little rough. Drain the cooked potatoes and let them steam for a little bit to drive off excess moisture.
Then add them to the bowl with the infused oil. Season the potatoes with a little bit of salt and fresh cracked pepper and then toss them. The goal here is to be a little bit rough on them so that a pasty, mashed-potato-like layer builds up on the exterior of each chunk.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, or 400 degrees if using convection, then transfer the potato chunks to rimmed baking sheets, spreading them out so that there’s a little space between each piece. You really want to see that textured coating at this point. Place the potatoes in the oven, and let them roast for 20 minutes without moving them in order to let their crust start to set up. After those 20 minutes, give them a careful flip with a spatula or your fingers and keep roasting them, tossing them and flipping occasionally until they’re deeply browned and crisp all over. This can take about half an hour to 40 minutes longer.
We’re almost done. Now, transfer the roasted potatoes to a bowl, and add the strained garlic and rosemary along with some freshly chopped parsley. Tossed the potatoes thoroughly to coat them in the flavorful mixture and they’re ready to serve. Just check out those micro blisters. I promise you, these are going to be the best things ever.