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This year, I decided to reexamine my potato-roasting method from the ground up with the idea of completely maximizing that crisp-to-creamy contrast in each chunk of potato, testing and retesting every variable, from cut size to potato type to boiling and roasting methods. The result is this recipe, which I firmly and un-humbly believe will deliver the greatest roast potatoes you've ever tasted: incredibly crisp and crunchy on the outside, with centers that are creamy and packed with potato flavor. I dare you to make them and not love them. I double-dare you.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:
- Large chunks of potato maximize the contrast between exterior and interior.
- Parboiling the potatoes in alkaline water breaks down their surfaces, creating tons of starchy slurry for added surface area and crunch.
- Infusing the oil with garlic and herbs gives the potato crust extra flavor.
Russet potatoes will produce crisper crusts and fluffier centers. Yukon Golds will be slightly less crisp and have creamier centers, with a darker color and deeper flavor. You can also use a mix of the two. The potatoes should be cut into very large chunks, at least 2 to 3 inches or so. For medium-sized Yukon Golds, this means cutting them in half crosswise, then splitting each half again to make quarters. For larger Yukon Golds or russets, you can cut the potatoes into chunky sixths or eighths.
1/2 teaspoon (4g) baking soda
4 pounds (about 2kg) russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters, sixths, or eighths, depending on size (see note above)
5 tablespoons (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, duck fat, or beef fat
Small handful picked rosemary leaves, finely chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Small handful fresh parsley leaves, minced
1. Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°F/230°C (or 400°F/200°C if using convection). Heat 2 quarts (2L) water in a large pot over high heat until boiling. Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt (about 1 ounce; 25g), baking soda, and potatoes and stir. Return to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until a knife meets little resistance when inserted into a potato chunk, about 10 minutes after returning to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, combine olive oil, duck fat, or beef fat with rosemary, garlic, and a few grinds of black pepper in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Cook, stirring and shaking pan constantly, until garlic just begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Immediately strain oil through a fine-mesh strainer set in a large bowl. Set garlic/rosemary mixture aside and reserve separately.
3. When potatoes are cooked, drain carefully and let them rest in the pot for about 30 seconds to allow excess moisture to evaporate. Transfer to bowl with infused oil, season to taste with a little more salt and pepper, and toss to coat, shaking bowl roughly until a thick layer of mashed potato–like paste has built up on the potato chunks.
4. Transfer potatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet and separate them, spreading them out evenly. Transfer to oven and roast, without moving, for 20 minutes. Using a thin, flexible metal spatula to release any stuck potatoes, shake pan and turn potatoes. Continue roasting until potatoes are deep brown and crisp all over, turning and shaking them a few times during cooking, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
5. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and add garlic/rosemary mixture and minced parsley. Toss to coat and season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.