crispy potato roast

crispy potatoes: nirvana? ::::

If you are a food blogger or read food blogs voraciously and don’t know the smitten kitchen food blog, then you are undoubtedly living in a hole. In the world of food bloggers, Deb has been around for four years blogging about her kitchen successes and disasters, with impressive writing that will have you coming back for more. That’s like 50 years in internet-years. She is one of the queens of food blogs. Last month, she posted this potato dish that had me at “crispy.” I immediately ran out and bought potatoes. And butter. And more potatoes.

Then life happened.

I couldn’t manage to get 4-5 pounds of potatoes mandolined with the Grub’s grabby hands and pleas (read: wiggles) for attention. Peach also threw in a few whines and tantrums along the way. The potatoes sat neglected. They sighed, growing sadder, bigger eyes. I saw a tear drip slowly down one potato and felt just as sad. I wasn’t going to have my crispy potato roast any time soon.

Days passed. Kids chilled out. Grub took a long nap. Peach went to pre-school. The weekend came about and Eat was home. We decided to have friends over for dinner. Then I had the time. I gleefully whipped out my mandoline and began slicing. Then it struck me. Guilt. I had to stop. I had to watch these potatoes oxidize in front of me, slowly growing red with embarrassment. What was I thinking, slicing potatoes for 30 minutes?

I should be studying for my medical boards (now over, thankfully!). Or cleaning. Or knitting a pink armadillo for Peach. Or buying stock in Sanrio-Hello Kitty.

I ignored the voices and kept slicing. It was going to be worth it.

From Trial One (Header photo is from Trial Two)

It was. Kind of.  Potatoes got me through medical school. I ate pounds of them roasted with caramelized onions and fresh rosemary. But this dish? Not as good as I had hoped. For a potato lover, it’s extremely disappointing. Hard to get over. Feeling a little sorry for myself. I mean, how can I mess up potatoes?

I felt the potatoes were somewhat crispy but more chewy-crispy and dry. Since I used a tall sided pot (a dreamy 5-quart Le Creuset), my potatoes didn’t brown up as much. I also think putting more oil in the bottom of the pan would have helped.

So I tried it again.

Trial Two:  A thinner slice on the mandoline. A tad more oil. You know what? The same results except browning was accomplished. The crispiness seemed better in the areas that were well-oiled. Perhaps not crowding the potatoes so much would help for more crisping. Maybe even more butter and oil would help. Smaller diameter potatoes might cook through better. Even with potato love ingrained in me, this dish wasn’t as I hoped. I still managed to scrape the casserole clean and eat every last bit of it. That’s what potato love will do, even with subpar cooking.


crispy potato roast
Recipe type: vegetable
  • 4 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I used my basil oil)
  • Coarse salt
  • 4-5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled (smaller diameter potatoes are great, if you can find them)*
  • 2 small onions
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • Garnishes recommended by Deb (optional): Bits of goat cheese, crumbles of bacon and/or bits of crisped pancetta
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine butter and oil. With a sharp knife or mandoline, slice potatoes crosswise very thinly (go thinner than 1.8 mm but no need to be transparently thin). Find an appropriate dish (see note below).*
  2. Pour a tablespoon or so of the butter/oil mixture in the bottom and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the oil mixture with a few pinches of coarse salt. Be generous! This will allow you to season both the top and underside of the potatoes. Arrange potato slices vertically in the dish.
  3. Thinly slice onions with mandoline and slide onion slivers between potato wedges, distributing them as evenly as possible. Brush with remaining oil/butter mixture. Generously season your dish with salt. Bake 1¼ hours, then sprinkle thyme on top and bake until potatoes are cooked through with a crisped top, about 35 minutes more. If casserole seems to brown quickly, cover with foil to avoid overbrowning. Add any garnishes, if using, and serve immediately. Serves 8.
* The amount you use will depend on the size of your baking dish. Martha suggests a 9-inch round dish. Since I used my oval-shaped 5-quart dish, I aimed higher. I used 4 pounds plus 10 ounces of peeled pre-sliced potatoes. There were some dark spots that I cut off before slicing, so the true amount was slightly less.



  • Anonymous May 31, 2011 Reply

    "When a potato cries, a bit of me dies…"

  • Story May 31, 2011 Reply

    Ha ha! I am so with you on this one!

  • Miriam Leigh June 6, 2011 Reply

    What a beautiful and interesting dish! Love the texture and pattern created by those thin slices of potato – like a work of art!

  • Story June 6, 2011 Reply

    Thanks, Miri! If you try it, let me know if you succeed. I can't get past the "chewy-dry."

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