Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Crunchy Potato Wedges

Consider the humble potato. Baked, mashed, sauteed or fried: the world's favorite little root vegetable will meet these challenges gladly, and then some. I know I'm not alone when saying that potatoes, cut into planks and deep fat-fried, are a favorite. But, there's the whole deep frying issue, which admittedly, isn't the best for anyone's health.

So how can the home cook replicate that tasty, crunchy exterior and soft, welcoming center without gallons of hot oil? Surprisingly, the answer is found in an old restaurant trick.

Potatoes are boiled just shy of mashing stage, then held until ready for the oven. After being bathed in olive oil and seasonings, they cook to a glorious browned crispiness that screams "French fry!". But biting through that golden crust rewards you with the satisfying softness that is pure earthy comfort.

The recipe is fairly basic, and can be re-interpreted in many ways. Need more fiber? Keep the skins on. In a hurry? Cut them before boiling. Bored with salt, pepper and ketchup? Sprinkle them with Thai seasoning and serve with a spicy chili dipping sauce and a squirt of lime. Head southwest with chipotle and salsa. Feeling more Provencal? Try some herbs-de-Provence and a Dijon mustard sauce. Are you a South Beacher? Try it out with sweet potatoes, or any other root-type vegetable.

Personally, I like these best piping hot, with a fresh grind of sea salt, black pepper and a little squeeze of lemon juice. Pommes frites never had it so good.

Crunchy Potato Wedges

4 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed
extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper

In a large, heavy pot, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Add a large pinch of salt and cook over moderately high heat until just tender when pierced with a knife, about 20-25 minutes (these should not get as soft as they would be for mashed).
Drain and let cool slightly, then peel the potatoes and cut into wedges.

Transfer the potatoes to 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle generously with the olive oil, turn to coat and season liberally with salt and pepper.

In a 425 degree oven, roast the potatoes on upper and lower racks of the oven for 40 minutes, switching the pans once, until the potatoes are browned and crisp.
Serve immediately.

adapted from Food & Wine, February 2006


Blogger MeBeth said...

I often do this with little red skin potatoes and I don't even bother par cooking - just cut them into wedges, give them an olive oil rubdown, and blast them in the hot hot oven till they're crispy.

10:43 AM  
Blogger sher said...

Oh boy!! Now I have potato lust! Potatoes are probably the most comforting food for me. I made a recipe like this years ago, but now you've activated the launch sequence and I MUST make some of those fabulous taters!

12:58 PM  
Blogger Bobbisox said...

LOL, you just made me call my husband to pick up some Yukon Gold potatoes. What a write up on the lowly pomme de terre!

3:32 PM  

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