Everyone is impressed when you can pull off a grand meal or serve that fancy dish you saw on television, but something that people will always talk about no matter how simple or elegant the dish is how well you can cook your starches. I can’t even recall how many times I’ve been disappointed with an otherwise great meal because the rice was gummy, the crust was soggy, or the potatoes were too hard or burned. Think about it; have you ever had a pie with a nice crackly crust and not remarked about it? Hopefully, I can set you on that path today.
The big trick with your starchy vegetables like potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, and squashes (to a lesser degree) is that if you season them while raw, your seasonings will be burned by the time your starch is even half-cooked. The solution is extremely easy, but for some reason it just does not occur to people, including myself, even when I started cooking professionally: season your potatoes once they are cooked through. Here is a recipe I like to use in a pinch. It only requires a handful of ingredients and can be played with depending on what you have on hand as well as what else you are serving with it.
For this particular recipe, I decided to include bread crumbs, like certain versions of Italian roasted potatoes, in order to make them crunchier, but they can be easily omitted.
Seasoned Roasted Potatoes
Yield: 8 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Total time: 50 minutes – 1 hr 5 minutes
5-6 medium Idaho potatoes, cleaned
2 tablespoons canola oil, or other neutral oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
or 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
¼ bunch of parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
¼ cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Prepare a half-sheet pan by covering with cooking spray or rub a splash of canola oil to coat. Cut your cleaned potatoes into bite-size chunks and distribute in an even layer on the pan. Cook for 30 minutes or until all potatoes begin to brown on the edges. While your potatoes roast, prepare and mix all other ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, minus the bread crumbs. Once the potatoes are slightly browned and becoming fork tender remove them from the oven and toss with your seasonings. Return them to pan in an even layer and then sprinkle bread crumbs over the potatoes, trying to evenly distribute them. Roast again until potatoes are fragrant and evenly browned, about 15 minutes. Potatoes are ready when they are crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
They will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator and reheat extremely well in either the oven or microwave.