This is not so much a recipe as it is a technique, one that you can memorize and make in a pinch when you need an easy side dish that absolutely everyone will love. By first boiling the potatoes in heavily salted water, you’ll be seasoning them all the way through before roasting, leaving crispy edges and creamy, well-seasoned insides. Ideally you should use the best organic potatoes you can find, since you’ll be eating the skins, and the amounts can vary based on the number of people you’re feeding. I generally make a bigger batch than I think I need for dinner so we’ll have delicious leftovers (these potatoes reheat beautifully, by the way), but there are very rarely any left at the end of the meal. Don’t worry if the cooked potatoes fall apart a little when you’re shaking them dry; the craggier they are, the better, as all that roughness turns shatteringly crisp when coated with oil and blasted in the oven.
1-2 organic Russet potatoes per person, scrubbed with any eyes removed
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
A few sprigs of rosemary or thyme, or both
Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving, if you like
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the potatoes into 1–1½ inch chunks and place them in a heavy saucepan. Cover with water by 2 inches and add a healthy dose of salt—you want the water to taste like the sea. Bring to a boil and cook until tender when pricked with a fork, skimming away any foam that may appear on the surface. Drain in a colander, vigorously shaking all the water from the potatoes, and transfer to a bowl.
Toss the steaming hot potatoes with a liberal glug of olive oil and scatter the sprigs of herbs into the bowl. Pour them out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread them around so there’s no overlapping, drizzling with any excess oil from the bottom of the bowl. Roast in the hot oven for 30 minutes, stirring with a spatula once or twice during baking, until well-browned on all sides.
Serve the hot potatoes straight from the oven, with finely grated Parmigiano on top, if you like, and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
This story appeared in the Winter 2016 issue.
Sarah Blackburn is a home cook, recipe developer, soccer mom, Italophile and managing editor at Edible Boston. She can be reached at email@example.com.