There are french fries and there are oven-roasted fries, both delicious in their own right. What we've been craving is something in between. A potato wedge with the light crispiness of a french fry, but with the creamy sweetness of a slow-baked oven potato. We think we've found the perfect recipe.
Here's what we've started doing: we partially cook our potatoes in boiling water, toss them in a bowl with kosher salt and olive oil until the edges are roughed up, and then spread them out on a baking sheet to roast.
Resulting from all this abuse are the crispiest potatoes you may ever eat short of deep fat frying. The outside skin is thin, airy, and satisfyingly crunchy. The insides are as soft and velvety as mashed potatoes.
They also don't take much longer than any other method of roasting potatoes. Parboiling takes about five minutes and then cuts the normal baking time nearly in half.
You can do any shape you desire. We like bite-sized chunks, but wedges, rounds, or sticks would also work. The key is not to overcook the potatoes while boiling or they'll fall apart when you toss them. You just want to cook them enough so the outsides are softened.
We are hardly the first people to have stumbled upon this recipe. Nigella Lawson has been espousing it for years (though her version incorporates three cups of goose fat!). Cook's Illustrated also did a version of them in their last holiday issue. Our method falls somewhere in the middle.
Extra-Crispy Tossed Potatoes
2 pounds waxy or all-purpose potatoes, like red skinned or Yukon Golds
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450°.
Scrub your potatoes clean (or peel them) and cut them into your desired shape. Place them in a sauce pan with a tablespoon of kosher salt and cover them with about an inch of cold water. Bring this to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook 4-5 minutes, just until the edges are softened but the centers are still hard.
Drain the potatoes and put them in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the potatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle them with one teaspoon of kosher salt. Place a dinner plate over the bowl, and holding it tight like a lid, give the potatoes a few good shakes to roughen up the sides and edges.
Spread the potatoes in a single layer over a baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes, flipping the potatoes every 15 minutes until they're evenly browned and crispy. Allow to cool slightly and serve immediately.
(Images: Emma Christensen)