Monday, March 14, 2011

Roasted Red Potatoes - The Easiest Recipe of Them All

Every now and then, we get a question from someone just learning to cook, asking which dishes we would suggest for beginners. My first answer is usually Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce, served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with fried egg on top and spam guacamole. Always edible and frequently divine, it’s tough to mess up, being a no-cook dish with four or five key ingredients. Plus, people love people who make guacamole. If the last census is to be believed, guac is responsible for 30% of all pregnancies, second only to playing Barry White albums on repeat.

But this post isn’t about guacamole. (Fooled you!) It’s about other stuff, starting with the rest of the easy recipe list. After guac, it goes like this: refried beans, eggs, salsa, banana ice cream, chili, soup, and finally, the reason we’re all here today, roasted potatoes.

Practically effortless and more reliable than even a good bra (trust me, guys), roasted potatoes are an all-natural alternative to frozen fries, tots, and various ephemera. The high temperature and longer cooking time produces soft and tender insides with a crisp outer skin, just like nature and the cavemen who invented fire intended. Children and non-children alike love roasted potatoes, and the spuds are suitable for, really, any kind of meal. Serve them for breakfast, second breakfast, brunch, lunch, dunch, dinner, or as a midnight snack, making sure you turn the oven off before you hop into bed with your bounty.

For everyday roasting, I dig red potatoes, though russets (Idaho) and Yukon golds are also quite nice. But reds - velvety with a skin that caramelizes ever-so-slightly - reds are a treat on par with good magazines at the dentist’s office, or your professor canceling a final because his kid got a carrot stuck up his nose. (Note: This actually happened.)

This recipe for Roasted Red Potatoes is about as basic as it gets. You can add some chili powder, cayenne, or minced herbs for effect (rosemary is suggested here), but there’s no real need unless you’re feeling inspired. Though I’ve never had any leftovers, I presume they’d hold up when reheated, and could provide an excellent base for home fries.

To sum: easy, tasty, versatile, healthy, and cheap (which: forgot to mention). Maybe they should be #1 on that Beginners list.


If these look like you’d have a bunch, then complete your easy meal with:


Roasted Red Potatoes
Serves 4

2 pounds (about 4 medium) red potatoes, scrubbed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary (optional)

1) Set rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.

2) Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Cut each half in lengthwise again. Cut each quarter into slices, from 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch in width.

3) In a medium bowl, combine potatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary if using. Stir thoroughly to combine. Pour on to baking sheet in a single layer, making sure to spread potatoes out so they roast and don’t steam.

4) Cook 20 minutes. Stir potatoes. Cook an additional 15-20 minutes, until sides are browned. Remove and serve hot.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
223 calories, 7 g fat, 3.9 g fiber, 4.3 g protein, $0.54

2 pounds (about 4 medium) red potatoes: 653 calories, 0.9 g fat, 15.4 g fiber, 17.1 g protein, $1.94
2 tablespoons olive oil: 239 calories, 27 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.21
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.01
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.01
TOTAL: 892 calories, 27.9 g fat, 15.4 g fiber, 17.1 g protein, $2.17
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 223 calories, 7 g fat, 3.9 g fiber, 4.3 g protein, $0.54

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