~ My Passion for Potato Perfection: Seriously-Crispy Roasted Caraway-Seeded Heart-Shaped Potatoes ~
Seductively crispy on the outside, steamy soft and tender on the inside -- is there anyone who has the will-power to resist perfectly oven-roasted potatoes? I didn't think so. From poultry to pork to pot-roast and prime-rib, they are that one special side-dish that everyone desires. As you can tell, I am quite passionate about this subject -- as it turns out, I am not alone.
What's that you say? A better way to roast potatoes?
It seems that while I was stranded on that deserted island with my head stuck in the sand, food scientists took it upon themselves to research the roasting process with regards to potatoes. They determined there is a better way to do it besides the typical and traditional way: tossing them with a bit of oil or fat and placing them in a hot oven. We've all been doing it that way forever and while that method works fine (the potatoes do crisp up), we also know that within moments of removing them from the oven, the steam from their centers causes them to soften.
Read on carefully, this is technical stuff: It is a gelatinized layer of starch that causes any type of potato to crisp up. The thicker the layer of gelatinized starch, the crispier the potatoes. To increase the layer of gelatinized starch on your potatoes, which in turn results in super-crispy potatoes that stay crispy longer, the sliced or chunked potatoes need to be briefly parboiled in acidulated water (water with about 1 tablespoon of vinegar added to it) prior to roasting -- "briefly" is the operative word here, 4-5 minutes, until only the exterior surface is tender.
"Everybody into the pool!"
(4 quart stockpot + 2 quarts water + 1 tablespoon white vinegar + 2 pounds potatoes)
That said, while all potatoes can be roasted, not all potatoes are created equal: Starchy russets produce the crispiest crust with fluffy, dry interiors; Yukon Golds produce a slightly less crispy crust with creamier centers, and; Waxy reds with their naturally creamy texture get the least crispy and were not recommended for roasting at all (but I beg to differ with that opinion). In my food world, it's all about "what you like and how you like it", so, use whatever potato you like best and stand with your feet firmly-planted behind your decision.
2 quarts cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2-2 1/4 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 3/4"-thick disks, then into 1 1/2" chunks
*Note: Because I am making heart shapes, I don't peel the potatoes. If you want to skip the heart-shapes and cut the potatoes into traditional chunks or wedges, you'll need to peel them first.
Transfer potatoes to a colander and drain thoroughly, giving them a few shakes back and forth, about 30-60 seconds. Do not rinse potatoes.
Transfer steaming hot potatoes to a large bowl.
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon coarsely-ground peppercorn blend, about 60 grinds from a mill
~ Step 3. Using your fingertips, take a moment to place hearts flat sides down in the bottom of the casserole.
~ Step 4. Roast on center rack of preheated 375 degree oven for 1 hour, or until potatoes are golden brown and crispy on both sides. There is no need to stir or turn them during the roasting process.
Close your eyes, we eat these like fries:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 1 1/2" heart-shaped cookie cutter (optional) 4-quart stockpot; colander; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole; large rubber spatula; fork
Cook's Note: ~ Two-for-One Effortless Straightforward Side-Dishes: Roasted caraway-Seeded Carrots and Red Potatoes ~, is not a recipe I am ever going to throw under the bus in deference to food science. The addition of diced onion to the dish sacrifices a bit of crispiness, but it adds so much flavor, I can't in good conscience omit it. Check out the recipe in Categories 4, 12 or 20!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)