Crispy roast garlic potatoes
Just in time for Christmas feasting, here's a great side dish that doesn't take much time or effort: Hearty potato chunks roasted at 500F (260C), a searing hot temperature that browns the exterior of the potatoes to a crisp, crunchy crust as addictive as potato chips, while cooking the interior to a steaming, creamy texture that makes a beautiful contrast.
Accented with plenty of garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper for flavor, it makes a simple but appealing side dish good enough to draw attention away from the roast turkey or prime rib on the table. Almost.
Trust me on the high temperature ... don't get nervous and knock it down to a lower temp "just to be on the safe side." Run your oven as hot as it gets, just as many restaurant chefs do. Keep an eye on things, cooking by eye and by feel, not just by the clock, and you'll end up with the best roasted potatoes you ever ate.
It's easy to expand this recipe for a party. If you want to serve a larger group, just use one potato per customer and increase the other ingredients in proportion.
As always, if you try it, or better yet, if you come up with your own variations to play a riff on the theme, let me know how you fare!
INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)
2 large baking potatoes
2 or 3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil or more
1. Preheat your oven to 500F (260C).
2. Peel the potatoes and cut them into roughly 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes. "Blanch" them in a saucepan with salted water to cover, bring to a boil and turn down to a gentle simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, no longer. Don't overcook - you don't want to boil the potatoes, just get them started while softening the starchy exterior to give you a good base for your flavorful, crunchy crust.
2. While the potatoes are blanching, mince the garlic fine. Grease a large baking sheet with a small amount of the olive oil.
3. Drain the potatoes well, put them in a mixing bowl, and toss with the rest of the oil, the garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. When the potatoes are evenly covered with oil and garlic (use a little extra oil if needed), spread them evenly in one layer on the baking sheet.
4. Put the potatoes in the oven and don't open the door for 15 minutes. At the end of that time, take out the baking sheet - taking care to use a sturdy oven mitt or heavy pot holders - and use a thin metal spatula to turn every piece. Be careful to slide the spatula under each piece so you don't leave delicious crunchy bits stuck to the pan. Return it to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown. Remove to a heated serving bowl, hit it with a little more salt and pepper if you like, and serve.
As a side dish, this will be expected to serve with the wine you've chosen to match the main course, and its pleasant starchy flavors shouldn't war with any wine I can imagine. They went very nicely indeed with lamb chops and a simple, good-value Burgundy, <B>Paul Pernot 2005 Bourgogne Pinot Noir</b>.