I’ve made these potatoes three times in the past five days. Mostly, it’s because I've had a lot of boys to feed, and if there aren't platters of meat piled high on hand to keep them satiated then spicy roasted potatoes seem to be the next best thing. They’ve been eaten alongside pieces of juicy oven-roasted chicken, and topped with a fried egg after they were re-heated in a pan and tossed with a side of crispy kale. So, while they may seem as though they’re a dinner food – and they really are – they also masquerade well as something you might want to serve for breakfast or brunch. I don’t think anyone will mind.
The brilliance of this recipe doesn’t come from the ingredient list – after all, there are only three items to consider. Instead, it’s in the cooking techniques, of which there are two: boiling and roasting. Parboiling the potatoes softens them, while roasting crisps the outside creating a perfect potato piece that’s fluffy and tender on the inside, with a golden and crusty exterior. The integral part of the process happens between the two techniques, which is when the semi-cooked pieces are roughed up a little in the pot they’re boiled in, fluffing up their edges and ensuring the desired crunchy edges we all love to taste.
Although I tout these as boy-friendly food, they also happen to be company-ideal, and are a wonderful side dish to serve to your friends when you’re entertaining. The parboiling and bashing can be done in advance, then all you need to do is slip them into the hot oil and oven just before serving.
Simple Roast Potatoes
Feeds 4-6 (or 3 hungry teenagers)
- 3lbs. russet potatoes
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons Montreal steak spice*
Peel the potatoes and slice them in half lengthwise; place the flat side down on a cutting board and cut into ¼” thick pieces. Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add a hearty pinch of salt and place over high heat, bringing the water to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the potatoes are tender and a fork slides easily into the centre of each piece. Drain well, and allow to steam dry for three minutes. Return the potatoes to the pot, cover with the lid, and shake back and forth a few times knocking the potatoes arround a bit - this will ensure they become quite crispy when baked.
Meanwhile, while the potatoes are cooking, place a cast-iron skillet or oven-safe baking dish into the oven. Preheat to 450°F, letting the pan heat up with the oven.
When the potatoes are cooked and drained, remove the skillet from the oven and pour the oil into the pan. Add the potatoes and spices and turn carefully with a spatula to mix well. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the potatoes again, taking care not to bash them too much. You’ll want to flip them so all sides have the chance to brown and crisp. Return to the oven for an additional 20 minutes; remove from the oven and serve hot.
*The steak spice I buy is salted so I don’t add any extra to the dish. Feel free to use any spice blend you might enjoy – herbs de Provence, Italian seasoning, seafood or chicken seasoning, etc. – and season with salt and pepper to taste, if required.