Have we talked about potatoes yet? Have we talked about how easy it is to give them crispy browned sides with very little work on your part? We haven’t?! I can’t believe it.
Crispy, roasted potatoes are a staple in my kitchen. They are an easy, affordable, adaptable, people-pleasing side dish that everyone should know how to make. If you don’t, no worries. That’s what I’m here for.
First things first – potatoes. What kind? How big? How many?
Personally, I am a fan of Yukon gold potatoes. They look buttery and golden, which tricks you into thinking they are covered in more butter or oil than they actually are (use them for mashed potatoes and everyone will ask you, because they are so yellow, how much butter you put in the potatoes to make them so goooood). You can also use red potatoes, purple potatoes, or even Idaho potatoes, but my personal favorite are the Yukon golds.
As for size, it doesn’t really matter how big the actual potatoes are, though it may help you in deciding how many to cook. It matters more how big you cut them for roasting. As for how many to buy, I would cook 1-2 medium sized potatoes per person depending on how hungry your people are. When in doubt, make more. They aren’t as good leftover (no crispiness!) but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Size becomes more important when you cut them into pieces. You want your potatoes all to cook at the same rate, which means cutting them all relatively the same size. Don’t worry about perfection. If there are some smaller ones, they will just get extra crispy!
Next – seasoning.
Potatoes by themselves are pretty boring, let’s be honest. With the help of a little salt, pepper, maybe some garlic powder, rosemary, Mrs. Dash, or whatever strikes your fancy, potatoes become delicious little bites of starchy carbs! Start with your choice of oil – olive oil or vegetable oil – and drizzle evenly over your potatoes. I never measure*** so I don’t want to throw out some number and be totally wrong, but remember less is more. You want your potatoes to be lightly coated after they are all tossed together, not swimming in a puddle of oil. You can always drizzle in more if they look too dry. Next sprinkle in your salt, pepper, and other seasonings. Again, I don’t measure so I can’t help you there, but start by lightly sprinkling the top surface of your bowl of cut potatoes as if you were salting your scrambled eggs. You can always salt them after they’re cooked if they aren’t salty enough, though cooking them with salt will go a lot farther. As Sam always says, you can always add more salt, but you can’t take it away.
One of the keys to crispy potatoes is space! You want the potatoes to be friends, but they also need their bubble of personal space. If the other potatoes are all snuggled up next to them, things will just get steamy, no seriously! If you want soft, mushy potatoes, let them steam. If you want crispy potatoes, give them some room. Check out the photo above for a good example of the closest the potatoes should be. In fact, some of them are probably even too close. If you are cooking fewer potatoes you can obviously spread them out more, but you don’t want them any closer! Pick your pan according to the number of potatoes you’re cooking. Use two pans if you have to. Give them space and they’ll be happy.
Also speaking of potato layout, do you see the two potatoes in the center of the photo above? The one on the left sits on a flat, cut side for better roasting! The one on the right sits on the skin side – less crispy! You want all of your potatoes to be oriented cut side down and not skin side down for ultimate crispiness. Skins can get crispy, but the starchy potato inside gets crispier. You may have to go through and manually flip all your potatoes once you spread them out, but it’s worth it.
Lastly, high heat and an optional flip.
Potatoes roast best when they get a good amount of heat – 425-450 depending on your oven. Make sure the oven preheats all the way before you pop those babies in. If you want them to be crispy on all sides, it will take a little patience and a little extra effort. The laziest way is to do nothing, a step up is to stir and flip the potatoes with a spatula without worrying about if each one is being flipped (what I did for the photo below), and the ultimate effort is to remove the pan and flip each potato onto another side, one by one. You choose how crispy you want them.
Give your potatoes time. They will need to cook all the way through first before they can begin to crisp up. Expect 30-50 minutes depending on the size you cut your potato pieces.
Ok, let’s review:
Give ’em space
There you have it – crispy potatoes! I hope it worked.
***UPDATE: I made potatoes again last night and actually measured this time for everyone’s benefit! For 2.5 pounds of potatoes I used 2 T. oil and 1/2 tsp of salt. The other seasonings are up to you taste buds!