Roasting Potatoes (and a recipe)

So, a friend of mine asked me this week how to roast potatoes. Some people might think this is one of those questions one might label stupid...not so. Why? Because almost EVERYONE I know has no idea how to roast potatoes, or vegetables, for that matter. And it was not so long ago that I could have been grouped into that category, as I, too, was a potato-roasting failure (not to say that the aforementioned friend(s) is a failure. It's just not something you're born knowing). I think that the reason I never knew how to roast vegetables was because my family never really prepared veggies that way, and I always just thought it was impossible to get deliciously roasted veggies a la professional chef grade. Previously, I "roasted" at 350degrees, which took forever, and always gave me soggy veggies. I tried covering them with foil, but that also just gave me steamed, soggy veggies. I also used to stand around the kitchen and turn the veggies I was roasting fairly frequently, which never gave me any good results.

I wouldn't call my current technique "professional", but it's closer than my earlier attempts. I credit my mother-in-law with providing me with the instructions on how to roast, and they have never failed me. What was shocking to me is that almost any veggie can be roasted the same way, at the same temperature, for the same time, with the exceptions being things like mushrooms and peppers; They sometimes take a little less time.

I'd say, the key to roasting is threefold: High heat, Olive oil, and only turning the veggies ONCE.

Here's a ridiculously easy recipe that I made this week that incorporated a leek from the CSA and some of my glorious potatoes from the garden.

Recipe: Easy Roasted Potatoes with Leeks

You'll need:
  • a medium-sized baking dish
  • small potatoes, like reds (i used reds and yellows)
  • one small leek, cut lengthwise in half, washed, and sliced 1/2" thick
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt, sea salt, or some sort of coarse salt (table salt just won't do)
  • fresh ground pepper
  • (if you want a little herb flavor, grab a pinch of dried or fresh rosemary)

Preheat your oven to 450degrees.

After washing and drying your potatoes, cut them in half or quarters, depending on size. Place the potatoes and leeks in the baking dish and drizzle on a generous amount of olive oil. Toss the veggies in the olive oil to evenly coat, sprinkle with a few pinches of salt, and grind a little black pepper over everything.* Make sure the potatoes are lying in a single layer in the dish.

Place the dish, uncovered, in the top half of the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Turn potatoes and leeks ONE TIME. Roast for another 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown and smelling delicious. Serve.

*Remember: roasting brings out the flavor of everything, so I recommend going with a less-is-more technique when seasoning the potatoes. You can always add more later.

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