My family has been on a bit of a quest for the perfect roast potatoes. After many attempts to cook a potato that is crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and perfectly seasoned throughout, I've found a tried and true method for consistently great potatoes.
The first step is to boil the potatoes, followed by a generous smear of flavored butter, and finally a roast in the oven. The trick to proper seasoning is to prepare the butter on the salty side, which compensates for the relative lack of seasoning at the center of each potato.
When the girls have a craving, which is often, they ask for the "crunchy potatoes". No matter how much I make, there are never any leftovers. We love mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, but I think I'll make a batch of these as well!
Servings: 10 servings
5 pounds Yukon potatoes
6 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
3 sprigs creeping red thyme (or regular thyme), + extra for garnish
3 sprigs marjoram, + extra for garnish
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon sea salt (or Kosher salt)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
Seasoning the potatoes: Gather the marjoram and thyme leaves and finely chop them. In a bowl, combine the butter, garlic powder, 2 teaspoons of salt and the herbs. Stir well. Add the olive oil and black pepper. The mixture should be creamy and easy to spread.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Boiling the potatoes: Wash the potatoes and cut them into 3-inch chunks (no need to peel the potatoes). Place them in a large pot. Fill it with cold water until the potatoes are barely covered. It's important to start with cold water so the potatoes cook evenly. Bring to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and reduce the heat to medium-high (if you cook the potatoes at a roaring boil, they might fall apart). Cook for about 20-23 minutes. The potatoes should be fork-tender but still firm. Remove from the pot. Drain the potatoes throroughly and let them cool a little. Remove the skin if it's peeling off (so it doesn't burn in the oven). Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle and have dried (with no excess water), add the herb-flavored butter. Toss well.
Roasting the potatoes: Place the potatoes on an oiled baking sheet. Roast for about 30-35 minutes. When there's a nice brown crust, your potatoes are ready!
Transfer to a nice serving platter, garnish with sprigs of thyme and marjoram. I served them with roast beef and a garlic chive-flavored goat cheese dip or basil and chive-flavored butter.
It's ultra easy to remove the thyme and marjoram leaves from the stem. Hold the top of the stem with one hand and slide the other hand along the stem, pulling the leaves off. I like to bruise the leaves a little in a mortar and pestle to release all the flavor and make the dish more potent.
I usually don't peel Yukon potatoes. Russet potatoes are also good potatoes for this dish but make sure you peel them before boiling them.
You can season the potatoes with any other kind of herb.
For a healthier (and vegan) version, substitute olive oil for the butter, or you can also use vegetable butter (a vegetable oil-based margarine).