Best Ever Roast Potatoes

What I'm about to write might shock and/or upset you, but here it goes: I'm an ardent non-fan of mashed potatoes. I know, I know! Saying you don't like mashed potatoes -- one of those foods-loved-by-all, up there with pizza and ice cream -- is like saying you don't like sunshine, or kittens, or a good night's sleep. While I don't hate mashed potatoes (that would be you, tripe) its not a side I'd ever seek out, or order, or crave. My allegiance lies instead with Roast Potatoes, because as far as I'm concerned, its a crime to boil and mash up potatoes if you can instead toss them with lots of olive oil and herbs and roast them until they're superbly crispy and golden brown and glorious. It is very possibly side dish heresy to say this, but -- I'd much rather see a pile of roast potatoes on the Thanksgiving table than a heap of mashed potatoes. Who's with me?! 

So! Now that we've established that I'm on Team Roasted instead of Team Mashed, lets get to it -- today's recipe comes from one of my very favorite foodie sites, Serious Eats, more specifically their Food Lab, which aims to "unravel the mysteries of home cooking through science," or rather, develop the very best version of a dish taking into consideration the science behind the recipe. These are therefore not just any roast potatoes; these are top notch roast potatoes, A+ roast potatoes, roast potatoes living their Best Life. Here's the cliff notes version of what the Food Lab discovered (you can get the full story here): 

-Yukon Golds and Russets are the best for roasting (red skinned potatoes are to be avoided) and should be cut into larger pieces to allow for more surface area or rather maximum crispness;

-Cooking the potatoes in already boiling alkaline water (i.e water with some baking soda thrown in) before roasting helps the exteriors of the potatoes break down more, creating much more of the starchy slurry that leads to an extra-crisp exterior;

-Roasting the potatoes in a single layer at a high temperature (430 degrees Fahrenheit, 230 degrees Celsius) until nice and dark also results in maximum crispness, with a softer interior;

-Herb infused olive oil that the potatoes are roasted in, plus tossing the potatoes with extra herbs before serving makes these extra flavorful and rosemary-ish (rosemary + potatoes = soulmates).

The result? The very best potatoes I have ever made or eaten, with a crazy crisp exterior and creamy interior, extra herb-y and golden and glorious, perfect along side roast chicken or Thanksgiving turkey, yes, but just as marvelous eaten as are, from a cereal bowl, 
just you and a fork. I speak from experience. 

A couple of notes: I am not a huge fan of garlic, so I infused the oil with the cloves and then threw them away. If you like garlic, feel free to mince it finely and toss it with the potatoes at the end. Make sure all the potatoes roast in one even layer to ensure maximum crispiness. Lastly, my apologies for the slightly dark photos, but these were photographed on a rainy, cloudy day, which is actually just the sort of day one should be eating a big portion of super cozy comforting roast potatoes.

Looking for other Thanksgiving sides? I've got these green beans with shallots and pancetta, these mashed potatoes, this stuffing with sausage, apples, and apricots, these savory squash pancakes with sage brown butter, this butternut squash and caramelized onion galette, these cornbread muffins with maple butter, or these herb roasted carrots


2 tablespoons (25 grams) salt
1/2 teaspoon (4g) baking soda
4 pounds (about 2kg) russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters (or sixths if very large)
6 tablespoons (about 85ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (a small handful) rosemary leaves, finely chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, minced (see notes above)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, minced, plus more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius). Heat 3 quarts (12 cups) water in a large pot over high heat until boiling. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the baking soda, then and the potatoes and stir. Return the water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until a knife meets little resistance when inserted into a potato chunk, about 10 minutes after returning to a boil.
Meanwhile, combine the olive oil with the rosemary, garlic, and a few grinds of black pepper in a small saucepan. Heat the olive oil mixture over medium heat. Cook, stirring and shaking the pan constantly, until garlic just begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Immediately strain the oil through a fine-mesh strainer set in a large bowl. Set garlic/rosemary mixture aside and reserve separately.
When the potatoes are cooked, drain them carefully and let them rest in the pot  they were cooked in for about 30 seconds to allow excess moisture to evaporate. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl with the infused oil, season to taste with a little more salt and pepper, and toss to coat, shaking bowl roughly, until a thick layer of mashed potato–like paste has built up on the potato chunks.
Transfer the potatoes to a large lightly oiled baking sheet and separate them, spreading them out evenly. Transfer to the potatoes to the oven and roast, without moving, for 20 minutes. Using a spatula turn the potatoes over. Continue roasting until potatoes are deep brown and crisp all over, turning and shaking them a few times during cooking, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
 Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and add garlic/rosemary mixture and minced parsley. Toss to coat and season with more salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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