Jan 8, 2014 6:00 PM by Jennifer English

Let's Make a Meal: Pan-Roasted Potatoes

When I got started interviewing the most interesting and influential taste-makers in America on The Food & Wine Radio Network 15 years ago, there were few Food Bloggers. Today there are tens of thousands, some of whom are deservedly getting ready for Awards season.

I had a front row seat to the evolution of how we as a food culture discover and share recipes. I collect cookbooks as well as those wonderful small "heirloom" recipe boxes filled with hand written index cards with directions for some of the most delicious food imaginable. I also learned to open my mind and heart to the worthy work being done by the very best of the best in the culinary blogosphere. It is a reliable place to turn for guidance on a weeknight for a fresh idea for a family supper.

I make a crispy potato dish in the oven every Sunday when I prepare my family's "Sunday Roast." I did a leg of lamb for the first Sunday of 2014, and yes, I did oven potatoes. But when I need a superstar side dish on a Wednesday evening I suggest that this version of simple potatoes is the best you will find. I just adore these potatoes and their name, ""The Best Pan-Roasted Potatoes" holds up to the billing. We credit the astute editorial team at Food 52 for this and for this recipe. I have tried each potato and found that my family preferred the small red potato version.

Red bliss, Yukon Gold, or other waxy potatoes, 1 1/2 to 2 inches in size
Olive oil
Kosher salt (I prefer Morton Kosher salt here as it is more coarse than Diamond Crystal)

1. Halve the potatoes and place the cut side down; halve each half again but keep these halves together.
2. Choose a cast iron skillet large enough to accommodate the halved potatoes. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, no more than 1/8 inch deep. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Sprinkle the salt into the oil over the bottom of the pan as evenly as possible in a thin layer. Place the potato halves onto the salt (keeping the pieces of second cut together so the potatoes look like just one half). Fry at medium-high heat (without peeking) until you are sure that the potatoes must be burning (they're not!), about 12 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. At 12 minutes, gently turn over a potato half to see if it is nicely browned; if not, continue cooking a few more minutes.
3. When the potatoes are nicely browned, turn the heat as low as possible and cover the pan. You will hear spattering noises as the potatoes start to steam, and they will continue to brown under cover.
4. Cook about 20 to 25 minutes covered. The potatoes are done when a sharp knife slips into a potato easily. Serve hot. Kept covered with the heat off, they will keep for 30 minutes or more. If you are letting them stand, drain off any excess oil from the pan. They are equally good at room temperature.


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