A few weeks ago — although, you can imagine, it feels like it’s been much, much longer* — I learned bout something called melting potatoes and had to make them immediately. This is my favorite way to fall into something new: swiftly and static-free, even better when it has outsized pleasing results. I find the energy that comes from it kind of infectious. Why limit this fun to potatoes? Why don’t I do something random and new and unpredictable every single day? I should start right away. Or after I make these potatoes again because the only bad thing about them was that we had plans that night and I left them with the kids and babysitter. I did sneak one off the pan. It was hot. I dropped it. I definitely definitely did not eat it anyway. I am way too classy for that. Totally.
Do you love a circuitous recipe path? Me too. I saw it on the Instagram Stories of Dawn Perry, who is the food director at Real Simple, and it seems to have been discovered by associate food editor Grace Elkus, who found it on Pinterest, where it is very, very popular. It feels like a pared-down version of fondant potatoes (pommes de terres fondantes), a French dish in which cylinders of potato are browned very slowly in butter, with stock added in increments until the potatoes are crisp on top but creamy inside, but also somewhat glazed and booming with flavor. [Also, I love any dish that allows us to apply high praise usually reserved for meat, i.e. “meltingly tender”, to a vegetable.]
The Pinterest-favorite version that I’ve riffed on here happens in an oven instead of on the stove, meaning it’s fairly hands-off, ideal for people who plan to use their hands to make a big salad to offset the fact that they want to eat the whole pan of them and not share with anyone. The heat will seem too high, the butter too brown, the color on the potatoes too dark, and then you’ll try them and wonder why you’d serve anything else with — or instead of! — a roast ever again.
* Thank you for all of your kind words this week. I am reading them all slowly. I’ve been feeling much better since I wrote it, so thank you, as always, for giving me your ear.
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Four years ago: Broccoli Cheddar and Wild Rice Casserole and Double Chocolate Banana Bread
Five years ago: Coconut Bread and Chocolate Hazelnut Macaroon Torte
Six years ago: Potato Knish, Two Ways and Carrot Cake Pancakes
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And for the other side of the world:
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- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or rosemary leaves (I skipped because mine are under snow)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch slices
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock or low-sodium broth
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
[This is really, crazy hot. If you’re really nervous, I suppose that 450 degrees or 475 will also work, but I made it both times at 500 without problems.]
Place melted butter in the bottom of a large bowl. Stir in herbs, if using, salt, and pepper. Add potato slices and mix to evenly coat them. Spread potato slices and all of the good stuff at the bottom of the bowl in a 9×13 (quarter-sheet) metal (a glass baking dish shouldn’t be used at this high of a temperature) baking pan.
Roast potatoes for 15 minutes. Use a thin spatula (you all know by now how much I love a flexible fish spatula, especially here) to loosen potatoes and turn them over. Roast for a second 15 minutes, then carefully pour stock or broth into pan and add the garlic cloves. Roast for 15 minutes more, until potatoes are fully tender.
Remove from oven. Transfer to a serving platter along with any remaining liquid in pan and serve warm to very lucky people.