One of my favorite things to cook for myself (something I’ll be doing a lot of in the next few months) is potatoes. I love them cooked anyway, but my favorite is “pan-roasted”: they’re crispy, crunchy, and really, really easy. They take anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes to cook, but most of that time is completely hands off, so you can have plenty of time to, oh I don’t know, watch Iron Chef America videos on YouTube. The recipe is below. Please note that although 1/4 cup may seem like a lot of oil, some of it (at least a tablespoon) is drained off in the end. You could cut it back to 2 tablespoons if you’re using a nonstick pan (and I have done that before, for health and cleanup reasons), but a heavy, well seasoned cast iron pan is going to give you a much better crust on the little guys.
- 3 pounds waxy potatoes (often called “new potatoes”, these are smaller and rounder than regular baking potatoes. They are often red, but sometimes come in white, purple, or other gold).
- 1/4 cup (4 T) olive oil, or 2 T olive oil and 2 T butter (note: this is not the place to use your best olive oil: if you have cheap stuff and good stuff, like I do, use the cheap stuff)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Parsley, for garnish
Wash and scrub your potatoes (do not peel!) and cut the into chunks about the size of 1-inch cubes (this is not an exact science).
Take your largest skillet (preferably non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron) and preheat over medium heat. If you are using a cast iron, go ahead and set a timer for 2 or 3 minutes — you want this pretty hot (if you’re using non-stick, please do NOT preheat for more than 30 seconds or so, as doing so for longer may be bad for your health).
Once hot, throw in your oil and your potatoes, spreading the potatoes out in as even of a layer as possible (it should be close to a single layer). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Here’s the important part: set a timer for 10 minutes and walk away.
Come back when your timer beeps at you or when your 10 minute YouTube video is over, and, if the potatoes are releasing from the pan on their own, slide a spatula under there and gently toss them around. You don’t need to individually flip each piece, but make sure that they’re mostly turned around. Set the timer for another 10 minutes, and turn the heat down if they’re looking a little dark (the goal here is to soften them up as well as to brown them)
Check after 10 minutes (total of 20 in the pan so far). They may be getting close to done; mine were tonight. Take one out and taste it; if the inside is not yet creamy on the middle, keep them in the pan (I’d set a timer for 5 or 6 minutes, though, not 10. You don’t want them to burn!).
When soft on the inside and crispy on the outside (this can take as little as 20 minutes or as long as 45 minutes, depending on heat and type of potato. Be patient and don’t stir a whole lot), stir in the parsley, check a potato for seasoning (it will probably need more salt), and serve.