March 3, 2014

IMG_9288When things aren’t going my way, I’ve been known to sulk and mutter under my breath. I get into a snit and cook everything in sight and, yes, I eat my feelings. Mostly, I want potatoes. Preferably roasted potatoes. Crispy on the outside and creamy in the center. A little too salty with plenty of freshly ground pepper, too.

I’m going to whine now. Then, I will tell you how to make perfect roasted potatoes. I won’t blame you if you just go straight to the bottom of this post and skip the whine.

Some foods take planning and time, while others are whipped up in a snap. These potatoes fall in the first category. They cannot be rushed.  I’m okay with that. After all, most food preservation is about delayed gratification.  Pork belly hung to cure becomes pancetta in a few days. Tuna cures for months. Cheese ages and cultures. Pickles need to hang around. And while it’s not a necessary aspect of jam, delay that taste of June’s raspberry preserves and it’s that much more wonderful in December.

IMG_2004With food, I’m okay with delayed gratification.  With the kitchen renovation, not so much.  Sadly, stalls and delays push the project forward into the impossible zone for my preserving life. I need the stove from June to September. From the start, eight weeks of construction were estimated; we all know that means twelve weeks. It’s now well past the time when we could comfortably complete the work.

I’ve accepted the reality of the situation, but not happily. I will wait until Fall to begin the kitchen renovation.

In the silver lining department, thinking we were starting kitchen construction in April, I cleared all the cupboards, moved out furniture and started to plan what would go where in the new space.  And that meant a garage sale. All the stuff lurking in boxes and bags and backs of cupboards has been sold. I’ve got space to breathe.

But still.

I’m feeling a  grumpy about the delay and I made roasted potatoes. If you have had a crummy day, so should you.

IMG_9380These potatoes are named for Janet Dawson who loves potatoes even more than I do and first taught me this technique.

Janet Potatoes
Very gently adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Feast
Serves 6. Or 4. Or 1.

2 pounds small to medium red skinned potatoes
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup grapeseed or canola oil (olive oil will scorch at the high oven temperature)
Optional: 1 teaspoon each finely minced garlic and rosemary

Cut each potato into three pieces, making angled cuts to expose the most surface area to make crispy. Refer to my photo. (Nigella’s recipe has a little drawing to describe the way to cut the potato.)

In a medium pot with a lid, add the potatoes, cover with cool water and bring to a boil. Boil for exactly three minutes then drain off the water keeping the potatoes in the pot.

Sprinkle  the flour, salt and pepper over the potatoes, cover the pot and shake it hard. Lawson wants you to “bash the edges” to increase the crunchy factor. She’s dead right. At this point, you can set the potatoes aside for several hours. Just leave the pot covered on the counter or stovetop until about an hour before serving.

Add the oil to a heavy roasting pan or a sturdy sheet pan. Place the pan on the center rack in the oven and preheat to 450°F. While the oven heats up, so does the oil. This is critical.

When the oven has reached temperature, remove the pan and carefully add the flour coated potato wedges. Be careful. The oil is hot and it will splash and sizzle when the potato hits it. But that’s the genius of the technique.

Slide the pan back into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. If the potatoes are sufficiently toasty and crispy – not pale, but browned –  turn the ‘taters over one by one and return the pan to the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes. This is when the rosemary and garlic may be stirred in.

Serve these roasted potatoes nice and hot. Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt right before serving. Sometimes I’ll add finely chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Sometimes, I dip them in spicy ketchup. Nothing is better, I swear.

Although I saw no reason for any other food, I served them alongside a roast chicken and some green beans from the freezer.

In a few days, I’ll post another kitchen renovation update about my search for appliances. I’m moving forward with my research and pricing.



7 Responses to “eating my feelings. perfect roasted potatoes.”

  1. Beth (OMG! Yummy)

    The delay is good news! For safety, assume it will take TWICE as long as they estimate and 50% more $$, then you will not be disappointed. And take it from someone who was trying to get a reno done in time to host her son’s Bar Mitzvah brunch, it’s never good to push up against an important deadline. This is happening the way it is supposed to. Take your time, get what you want, in both layout and price and just look forward to all the fun in the fall. Can’t wait to hear about the appliances.

  2. Cook In / Dine Out

    Sorry Cathy. When I saw the “when things aren’t going my way…” intro I thought, oh no, something’s up with the kitchen renovation. And sure enough. Home renovation always seems fraught with difficulty. My mother loves remodeling her home and does so often, so she knows what to expect but it never goes completely as planned. There’s always something. Perhaps, in the intervening months, you’ll get some new ideas for the project and in the end it will turn out even better than if it had been done this spring. And those potatoes look amazing. Best to you.

  3. Linda

    Oh pooh. I figured something not so great must be up with the renovations when you weren’t posting about them. It’s more important to get where you want to be in the end. Take the time. Please pass the potatoes.

  4. Jill Martineau Cornish

    When we decided to remodel the “motel-style” bathroom in our home, I wanted solid surfacing on the walls of the shower, NOT tile. And I wanted to be my own general contractor because I didn’t want to have to spend time – on the clock – looking at various products with the contractor. I researched and found exactly what I wanted and, after checking sizes and appropriatness with the great contractor we chose, I bought and had all the materials shipped to our garage. When everything was on hand, the contractor went to work and completed the job on time. BTW, we had a tough time finding someone who would build the shower stall with the right materials – seems that everyone else likes cleaning all that grout! Ha! not us. Corian and Silestone are wonderful in the bathroom.

  5. Catherine

    Delay is not bad. We are in the midst of a renovation ourselves – took the kitchen down to the studs, practically. We began sourcing tile, appliances, furnishings last June. Contractors came in and did the heavy work in October and November, walking out the Monday before Thanksgiving. However, my husband the woodworker is making the cabinets. The boxes were installed by the contractors in November, but the finishing – drawers and doors – remains to be done, and the cold weather has prevented any work being done with finishing. Now I’m just hoping they’re done by June 🙁

    So I feel your pain…pass the potatoes!

  6. Kirsten

    Other than needing to paint the ceiling, our kitchen doesn’t need anything done to it. Well, a thorough cleaning would always be appreciated, but I ain’t gonna do that . . .
    These potatoes? Look awesome, and I especially love the photo of how to cut them–nicely done and really illustrates your point.
    Thanks, Cathy!


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