Perfect oven baked potatoes, in far from perfect times

After six weeks of intelligent lockdown, you would say that a person had finally soaked and cleaned up his / her kitchen cupboards. That that one piece of plinth that the painter had skipped three years ago would have been painted by now. That his/her balcony would have been transformed into an oasis of well-maintained plants and planks without green deposits. That those digital baby photo albums of hers – okay, I admit, this is about me – now almost grown children had really come through.

It doesn’t matter, I tell myself. The idea that something sensible should come out of such a crisis as the present one is, after all, completely nonsensical. And it’s not like I didn’t get anything done either. I baked three pies every week that made my roommates happy. I have a kitchen shelf full of canned goodies, from vegetable pickles to jam to barbecue sauce. I attended an online masterclass in making miso – more about that later. And I learned how to make the perfect oven baked potatoes.

I learned those potatoes from one J. Kenji López-Alt, managing culinary director of the major American food blog Serious Eats. In a video on YouTube, he talks about ‘The Most Incredibly Crispy And Crunchy Roast Potatoes That I Have Ever Had’. His recipe comes with a little bit of kitchen science. He pre-cooks the potatoes in water with baking soda. Baking soda makes the water alkaline and that causes the potatoes to boil. In other words: there will be a layer of starchy slurry on the outside. And that slurry, that’s all that extra, potentially crunchy surface.

J. Kenji López-Alt’s cooking video.

Another trick: Kenji López-Alt infuses olive oil with garlic and rosemary, after which he uses that oil to coat the potatoes. In this way he gives them extra flavor without the ever lurking danger of burnt garlic and herbs during these types of roasting sessions. After roasting, in which the potato pieces are given ample space on the baking tray, he still shakes them with the garlic and rosemary and with fresh parsley.

Et voilà, the perfect oven baked potatoes in far from perfect times. Everything counts.

The perfect roast potatoes

For 4 persons:

2 tsp coarse salt;
tl meatballs;
1.5 kilos of waxy potatoes, cut into chunks;
4 tbsp olive oil;
needles from 1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped;
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped;
a handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Heat preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Bring 2 liters of water to the boil in a pan. Add the salt and baking powder, stir until dissolved and add the potatoes to the pan. Cook the potatoes, covered, for about 10 minutes, until you can easily insert a sharp knife into them.

Heat the olive oil, rosemary, garlic and a few turns from the pepper mill in a small skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Slowly brown the garlic while constantly stirring and/or shaking the pan. Pour the oil through a sieve over a bowl. Save the garlic and herbs.

pour Remove the potatoes and let them steam dry for a minute. Place them in the bowl of infused oil, add additional salt and pepper to taste and toss well. The intention is that the outside of the potatoes is badly bruised, so that each piece of potato is covered with a kind of mashed potatoes.

spread Spread the potatoes on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Make sure the pieces don’t touch.

Slide the baking sheet into the center of the oven for 20 minutes.

Haal Remove the baking sheet and turn the potatoes one by one. Return to the oven and allow the potatoes to deep-brown and crisp for another 20-30 minutes.

Doe transfer the roast potatoes to a serving bowl, add the preserved garlic and rosemary and parsley and toss once more.