Beautifully browned outsides and creamy middles all tossed with fresh herbs. This makes for some really excellent crispy roasted potatoes! While it’s hard to go too wrong by simply roasting potatoes with some oil and salt, I have one little trick which will make your potatoes extra crispy and extra tasty.
Hello! I’m back from my vacation all rested and with some inspiration from the restaurants we ate at while we were gone. (I took notes!) And I’m all ready to share this great potato recipe with you!
Roasted potatoes are one of our go-to side dishes. We all love them here, they don’t require any last minute prep work like mashed potatoes, and they are a breeze to get into the roasting pan. Is it any wonder that I make roasted potatoes on a weekly basis? They are a star of a supporting recipe which I pair with all sorts of dishes. (Stay tuned for my Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs with Olives and Pine Nuts. Yum!)
However, until recently I hadn’t spent any time perfecting the recipe. It was tasty, it was good, it was easy, and that worked for me. But I knew it could be better and I knew that better involved par-boiling the potatoes. Years ago an English friend of mine mentioned that par-boiling + roasting was the only way to make really crispy roasted potatoes, and it turns out she was right. 🙂 I tested par-boiling in plain water and in water spiked with vinegar and in water spiked with baking soda. Each has its adherents, but I wanted to find out for myself which I liked the best and which made for the crispiest potatoes. I do try to test what variations I can before I share with you since I think it’s important to know what doesn’t work as well as what does work.
So, what’s the secret? Baking soda! To get crispy potatoes, you need to ‘rough up’ the surface, and the easiest way to do that is to have a soft outer surface on the potato. Boiling them in plain water made them mushy in the middle by the time the outside was soft enough, and then you get dried out, overcooked roasted potatoes. Not good. Vinegar allows you to boil the potatoes the longest and keep them firm but I didn’t get the soft outer surface I wanted. (I did get very creamy middles though!) Good, but not quite. Baking soda starts softening the outside of the potatoes right away, long before the middles are cooked. A quick par-boil and some enthusiastic tossing of the potatoes with kosher salt – to bang them up some more – and they are ready to roast up.
One thing about baking soda, though: You need to measure the water! Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll probably be able to eyeball the level, but the amount of baking soda in the water is important to make sure the pH is up to a level to soften the potatoes quickly.
Every part of this recipe has a part to play in making the potatoes better and crispier.
- Measure the water so you can add the right amount of baking soda for the pH.
- Use the baking soda to soften the outsides.
- Return them to the pot with the salt to bang them up.
- Preheat the roasting pan for a good initial sear and to help the potatoes release quickly.
- And use a high temperature to really brown them up before the insides overcook. It’s all good. 🙂
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
- 15 cups water
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 2 lb yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp fresh chopped herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, or sage
- Preheat oven to 500F. Put the roasting pan in the oven to heat up while you prepare the potatoes.
- Bring water to a boil. Once it's at a rolling boil, add baking soda and potatoes. Cook potatoes for about 3 minutes. (It will take about 1 minute to return to a boil and then 2 minutes at a boil.)
- Drain potatoes and return them to the pot. Then toss them with the salt and stir them around in the pot until they look fairly rough and broken up on the outside, about 1 minute.
- Add the olive oil to the potatoes and stir to coat them all evenly, then pour the potatoes into the roasting pan. Spread them out so all the potatoes are touching the bottom.
- Roast for 10 minutes. Then stir, turn the potatoes, and continue roasting for 10 minutes. Check the potatoes to see if they need a few minutes more. If the potatoes are soft in the middle and nicely browned, take them out. If not, stir and roast for 3 more minutes. Toss cooked potatoes with the fresh, chopped herbs.
When boiling the potatoes, wait until they start looking a little rough before you drain them. This can take an extra 30 seconds or so depending on the potatoes.
You can use parchment paper if you wish to line the pan, but I don't find it necessary. The high temperature helps the potatoes release quickly so you can stir them. Also, you will get less browning with the parchment.