Saturday, April 23, 2011

crispy potato roast

crispy potato roast

I fell for a photo this week. It was on marthastewart.com and it looked like an accordion, or maybe a Slinky, of thinly sliced, crisped potatoes and my brain computed this as CHIPS. POTATO CHIPS MASQUERADING AS GROWN-UP SIDE DISH. MUST MAKE POTATO CHIP CASSEROLE (I was kind of like this dog here) and although further investigation of the recipe unveiled no actual use of potato chips, creamed canned soup or anything also that would really allow it to be titled a Potato Chip Casserole, it was too late and I was making it anyway.

spuds
peeling

Plus, I was looking for a gratin alternative for potatoes for my family’s Seder on Monday night and this fit the bill perfectly. It’s not that I don’t like, nay love, any excuse to drown potatoes in cream and butter and swaddle them in a blistered cheese lid, but given that there was already going to be a spread, it didn’t seem necessary that the potatoes be so over-the-top.

slicing

If you have a mandoline, the prep on this is remarkably simple. Even the seemingly fussy parts — wedging thinly sliced shallots between potatoes — take only minutes. The baking time, however, is epic, close to two hours. I should have paid better attention in physics because for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how something the depth and thickness of a baked potato could take nearly twice as long to bake but advise you not to skimp if you want your dish cooked through.

soft, lovely thyme
shallots of indeterminate age

The results are stunning, and it tastes, just as I had hoped and dreamed, half like potato chips and half like a fragrant potato roast. Nevertheless, I’d love to punch up the flavor a bit next time, either finishing it with a sprinkling of soft goat cheese or feta and crumbled bacon or bits of crisped pancetta. I would also love to try this with my favorite potatoes, Yukon Golds next and to see how it would be interspersed with thin slices of a root vegetable. There’s a ton of potential here so if you tweak the recipe, I’d love to hear how in the comments.

sliced

One year ago: Blue Cheese Scallion Drop Biscuits
Two years ago: Pasta with Favas, Tomatoes and Sausage
Three years ago: Almond Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
Four years ago: Black Bean Confetti Salad

Crispy Potato Roast
Adapted from Martha Stewart

About the baking dish: My dish in the first photo is on the small side because I discovered that I’d only bought 2/3 of the potatoes I needed and scaled the recipe down. However, I found when I had the full amount of potatoes (retesting this) that it didn’t fit quite right in the 9-inch round baking dish Martha suggested (though it might for someone else). So, I’m going to make the somewhat annoying suggestion that you slice up all of your potatoes, grab a few dishes that may potentially work (a cast iron skillet would be great here), play around with the potato slices and when you figure out what dish you want to use, then put the butter/oil in the bottom and set it up. It sounds a bit insane but will ensure that your potato dish ends up looking exactly the way you want it to.

3 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (optional)(I used aleppo, which is milder and can therefore be used more generously)
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled (smaller diameter potatoes are great, if you can find them)
4 shallots, peeled
8 sprigs thyme
Garnishes (optional): Bits of goat cheese, crumbles of bacon and/or bits of crisped pancetta

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, combine butter and oil. With a sharp knife or manoline, slice potatoes crosswise very thinly. Figure out what baking dish you’d like to use [see Note above]; Martha suggests a 9-inch round baking dish (a deep dish pie pan would fit this bill) though I think you could go an inch bigger, an oval 1 1/2 to 2 quart casserole dish might also be pretty.

Once you’ve picked the dish that seems the best fit for your slices, 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 and red pepper flakes, if using; this will allow you to season both the top and underside of the potatoes. Arrange your potato slices vertically in the dish.

Thinly slice shallots with your mandoline and slide shallot slivers between potato wedges, distributing them as evenly as possible. Brush with remaining oil/butter mixture. Generously season your dish with salt; go easier on the red pepper flakes, if using. Bake 1 1/4 hours, then arrange thyme sprigs on top and bake until potatoes are cooked through with a crisped top, about 35 minutes more. If casserole seems to brown too fast, cover it with foil to slow it down. Add any garnishes, if using, and serve immediately.


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