Punchinello’s Chronicles

October 15, 2008

Perfect Sunday Dinner Roast Potatoes

Filed under: Food & Recipes,Tips — Punchinello @ 6:00 pm
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The best roast potatoes begin with red potatoes. Not Idaho, not Yukon gold, not hypbrids, not russet, not new potatoes, and not white potatoes: red potatoes!

When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes make a standing rib roast or leg of lamb for weekend dinners. Sometimes we’d have a roast chicken with stuffing, but when we had the meat we’d often have roast potatoes. You know the kind I mean, where there’s a peeled potato, quartered or maybe smaller, and laying in the bottom of the roasting pan.

They’re supposed to come out roasted. To me, that means a nice brown crust, crunchy when you cut it or bite into it, and a smooth moist inside. You can drizzle a bit of butter on smashed roast potatoes, but they don’t need it. They’re so moist, they just melt in your mouth. Except for the outer edges.

As I started learning to cook, I was bothered as to how come these potatoes didn’t always come out the same. Sometimes, more often than not, they’d end up dry on the tongue, maybe with a brown outer edge, but even that wasn’t always true. I figured it was the time involved, and maybe the melted fat from the meat.

Nope, even when I had a larger piece of meat or let them sit longer, they were inconsistent. I played with the oven temperature, and that didn’t do it either. Then I found red potatoes.

I like hash-brown and diced fried potatoes with eggs. I’ll toss in some onions, too, but there again I was having a problem. The fries were good, but not great! So I did some research on potatoes. The more I read about starch content, the more it looked to me as if it was red potatoes that would give me better, moister, and smoother diced fries.

People said red potatoes are more expensive than Idaho or russets. Nah, they’re pretty much the same price unless you want to quibble about literally a few pennies. The red potatoes are smaller, that’s true, and you can’t always find them loose, but more often than not you can.

I had some lamb, not so long ago, and wanted roast potatoes. But I also wasn’t going to be using the oven for more than an hour. The solution was to use a toaster oven. I’ve got one that holds a nice steady temperature, and goes up to 450-degrees, so I figured I’d toss in the potatoes to roast.

Take a small steel pan, or aluminum is you have one. Spray some oil on the bottom. Cut the peeled red potatoes into chunks, usually about 6 pieces. Make them look like roast potatoes.

Lay them in the pan, and sprinkle some seasoning lightly over the tops. I like the Morton’s seasonings, but Lawry’s makes a great seasoned salt, or you can just use a little plain salt and pepper.

The trick is to use some pats of butter. Two potatoes can use about 4 TBsp. of butter. Lay each pat on top somewhere, and don’t worry if they fall between the chunks of potatoe. All you want is the melted butter at the bottom of the pan for some fat.

Set the oven (whatever kind) to 450-degrees. Roast the potatoes for 30 minutes, then take the pan out and turn the potatoes. You’ll notice the bottom is already nice and brown and there’s all the melted butter. If you can, scoop some of that up and drizzle it over the turned potatoes, but it isn’t really critical.

Roast the turned potatoes another 20 minutes, and check. If they’re done, fine. If not, they’ll be done in about ten more minutes. The whole thing takes about 45 minutes, possibly 55 minutes.

Note that most pieces of meat you’ll bake in the main oven also take about 1 hour. You can put the potatoes in 10 minutes after you put the meat in the oven, and they’ll come out done at the same time.

That’s some perfect roasted potatoes, let…me…tell…you…true! The insides are fluffy, moist, and melt in your mouth. The outer edges are crispy brown, and you can leave ’em in the oven a bit longer to make them even darker if you want (but they’re easy to burn). Whatever melted butter is in the bottom of the roasting pan, just pour it over the potatoes in their serving bowl. You can serve them with gravy, au jus, or just plain. Mm…mm Good!

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