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Divine Roasted Potatoes + Staving Off Wanderlust

January 21, 2010

So I made a goal for myself for 2010.

I don’t normally make goals but in my enthusiasm to try new things, I decided to break that habit and tentatively make one. So my first goal was a modest one: try one new recipe every week. I have cookbooks and binders and bookmark folders full of recipes that, for the most part, have lain dormant and sadly untouched. This needed to change.

So I’m kicking the habit in 2010.
And so far it’s been going well.

Last night, after an incredibly exhausting day/week at work, I came home with renewed energy at the thought of trying my new recipe of the week: Pascale’s Perfect Roasted Potatoes, courtesy of Clotilde over at Chocolate and Zucchini.

I will be honest about one thing right up front: roasted potatoes freak me out because mine rarely turn out well. I will now be honest about two more things: these were a snap to make and after my first bite, I quite nearly wept (true story) because they were so good (and because I’m nearing a point of delirious exhaustion). They were crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside, golden, perfect, buttery ambrosia. It was Potato Nirvana.

And I do not exaggerate, friends.
I do not exaggerate at all.

Without further ado and with the anticipation of many “oooh!”s and “ahhhh!”s, I give you:

Pascale’s Perfect Roasted Potatoes
(originally found on Chocolate and Zucchini)

  • 1.2 kilos (2 1/2 pounds) potatoes (waxy or floury — both types will work equally well) [C’s Note: I used organic Yukon Golds, which gave mine an incredibly buttery flavor with zero butter]
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or duck fat [C’s Note: I used soybean oil, which worked wonderfully]
  • sea salt

Serves 4 generously.

Preheat the oven to 210°C (410°F).

If your potatoes are smooth-skinned, scrub them well and peel them in alternative stripes so that strips of skin remain. If, on the other hand, the skin of your potatoes is rugged and grainy, peel it off completely (no need to scrub) then rinse the potatoes well in cold water.

Cut the potatoes into even chunks, about the size of a bite. Place them in a saucepan large enough to accommodate them, cover with cold water, and add a teaspoon coarse salt. Set over high heat, cover, bring to a low boil, then lower the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.

As soon as the water boils, pour the fat into a rimmed baking sheet, and place the sheet in the oven, so the fat and baking sheet will heat up.

After the 5 minutes of boiling, drain the potatoes — they will not be cooked at that point — and return them to the saucepan. Place a lid on the saucepan. Holding the lid firmly shut with both hands (the saucepan will be hot, so wear oven mitts or use dish towels), shake the saucepan vigorously for a few seconds, until the surface of the potato chunks is fuzzy; this will help the formation of a crust.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven, pour the potatoes onto the sheet, sprinkle with sea salt, and stir well to coat with the fat.

Return to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping the potatoes halfway through, until cooked through (when you insert the tip of a knife in one of the pieces, it should meet no resistance), crusty, and golden. If you want a little more color on them, you can switch to grill mode for the final few minutes.

Serve immediately.


So while reflecting and savoring these marvelous potatoes, I began wondering if there wasn’t something further to my recent enthusiasm for cooking more than normal. As I examined my thoughts (never an easy or short process), I realized that my wanderlust has been kicking up a hefty amount of dust lately. It happens, in its most severe form, this time of year, every year, mostly because of sentiment — it was this time exactly that four years ago, I stepped off a plane onto English soil and fell into the worst and most irreversible love — the love of the open road, the love of places far away, the love of movement and motion and wandering. Travel was in my blood and it would never leave.

So now, in my position of home-bound contentment and being unable to zip off for a quick vacation, I am cooking to do battle with my wanderlust. Instead of dreaming of Sunday roasts at rustic inns on the River Thames, I will make Yorkshire pudding in my kitchen (and rewatch my favorite BBC miniseries).

Trout Inn, Wolvercote, Oxfordshire

In the battle of potatoes vs. wanderlust, the score is as follows:

Spuds, 1
Antsy Pants, 0

But seriously…try these potatoes.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Linda Lyzenga permalink
    January 21, 2010 11:35 pm

    Caroline – you are an inspiration!
    Recently I have been in a quandry as a baker – having shed nearly twenty pounds mid year and wanting to keep it off, I haven’t dared bake anything lest it end up on… well, there’s a saying, better in the trash than on your ass. But, if I were to follow your lead and bake just one new recipe each week I think that that would satisfy my passion for the craft and the creativity without sabotaging my Weight Watchers success.
    Dorie Greenspan, here I come.

    Plus, I’ll be following you lead and giving those potatoes a try.

  2. Kimpot permalink
    January 25, 2010 9:41 pm

    Okay, first off, I imagine those potatoes are just one of the many dishes served at a buffet in Heaven. They look beyond delicious. And second, I know exactly how you feel about wanting to go somewhere this time of year. And I think I speak for our fellow EHers too (at least the ladies anyway). I can’t believe how time has flown by. All I want to do is look back on all the fun times we had, but I know the future has so much in store – in particular any and every EH reunion. I miss you, sweet Caroline, and I hope our paths cross in a not-so-distant future.

  3. Grandma Carr permalink
    January 26, 2010 10:11 am

    Sweet Caroline…Were I much younger, you and I would hop a plane for the Cotswolds…yes, even in the winter. Love you!!

  4. Caroline permalink*
    January 26, 2010 1:32 pm

    @ Linda!

    Hahaha, I like your saying about the trash. That definitely gave me a good giggle. I applaud your slimming efforts and would encourage you to continue treating yourself. In my cooking explorations (both good and bad), I have found that delicious food need not always be chock full of butter and guilt. Using substitutions for fat (oil or butter) is a great help — I often use applesauce, bananas and yogurt instead.

    Let me know how you like the potatoes!

  5. Caroline permalink*
    January 26, 2010 1:33 pm

    @ Kimmy!

    Your first sentence made me laugh out loud. I know that you understand oh so very well my January nostalgia. It’s crazy, isn’t it, how much all of us treasure those five months together. I miss it all the time. I know of few other people who studied abroad and had the same experience — how lucky are we. 🙂

    Here’s hoping that we get to see each other again soon — and if we do, I promise, I’ll be cooking us dinner…with roasted potatoes. 🙂

    Love you lots.

  6. Caroline permalink*
    January 26, 2010 1:34 pm

    @ Grandma!

    I’d be on that plane in a second. If you ever change your mind, just saying…I’m willing. 🙂

    Love you!

  7. Linda Lyzenga permalink
    January 27, 2010 4:25 pm

    tried the potatoes & I agree – divine is the word! Used good ol’ Idaho Russets and olive oil. Next time I’ll have some Yukons on hand.
    As for the baking end of things – the joy is back!
    What fun :o)

  8. Caroline permalink*
    January 31, 2010 8:20 pm

    Yummmmm! So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Linda!


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