I often get complimented on my roasted potatoes, something I usually make as a last resort starch to a meat entrée. They are easy, less committed than mash or fries, and who doesn’t like potatoes anyway? I never thought there was anything special about my potatoes but, often encountering them when eating out, I will not so modestly admit my potatoes have an edge. Their best quality is the invariably crunchy outside and the soft inside.
There is not much of a secret really. Potatoes come in two basic types, mealy and waxy. Russet, banana, Russian are all mealy meaning that when they cook they tend to become dry and fluffy and work best for mashed, baked or fried recipes. The waxy types are new potatoes and the regular white skinned ones – when cooked, they hold their moisture.
I like to use small new potatoes, scrub them clean and quarter them (skin on, after all the vitamin C is packed in the skin). I toss them in a baking pan with olive oil and Kosher salt then I add a couple of peeled and smashed garlic cloves and a few tufts of rosemary. Finally, I slide them in a very hot oven, around 405 or 410 degrees. The outside will cook fast and will start to brown and crunch up, protecting the inside. Every so often I will detach them from the bottom of the pan with a spatula but I will otherwise let them cook undisturbed for an hour/hour and a half. The thinner bits will actually turn into baked fries and nothing, ever, gets left uneaten.