I know, you guys, I know. Everybody knows how to make roasted potatoes. It is a well-known fact that American fetuses develop potato roasting abilities in the womb, possibly before they develop arms with which to roast said potatoes. How else would wacky holidays based on revisionist history survive the test of time? ((Thanksgiving, I’m looking at you.))
But I didn’t. You heard me. Until two months ago, I didn’t know how to make roasted potatoes. Sure, I’d tried sporadically over the years; usually well-intentioned efforts at replicating my father’s delicious rosemary potato slices or late night hash brown attempts. I could microwave a baked potato from the age of six. I could sautée potatoes with onions. I could bake potato and egg breakfast casseroles. And like any self-respecting half-Jew, I could fry a decent latke. But every time I tried roasting, the world’s easiest potato-cooking method, I ended up with a pan full of charred and shriveled potato corpses littered with rosemary-flavored ashes.
Enough was enough! After learning that an elementary school-aged acquaintance of mine roasted potatoes regularly for his family, I had to preserve the small amount of dignity left to me. So I buckled down, and–after scrutinizing dozens of recipes to ascertain whether they’d be Serena-proof–I began roasting. ((Well, first I chopped and seasoned and mixed, but after that I roasted.))
You could say this is a family recipe, though I’m not sure any of my family members have made potatoes quite like this. Nevertheless, the rosemary reminds me of my father’s garden and summer breakfasts in his house, the paprika is inspired by my part-Hungarian grandmother, who seems to put paprika on nearly everything with great success, and the feta is a habit instilled by a cousin who taught me to love non-Italian cheeses, no matter how suspicious they might smell.
Feta-p With Baked, Boiled, Sautéed, and Mashed Potatoes (Or: Roast Potatoes for Ashamed Cooks Who Have Never Successfully Roasted Them Before)
- 2 pounds potatoes (I prefer small potatoes, like fingerlings, because you can easily cut them into adorable little wedges)
- 1 medium onion
- 3-5 cloves garlic
- a couple of handfuls fresh rosemary
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup feta cheese (depending upon number of diners)
Preheat oven to 400F (230C).
Cut potatoes into wedges. Mine are usually no thicker than 2/3″ and no longer than 2 inches, but some of you with larger mouths can probably handle more hefty potato wedges. Roughly chop onions and mince your garlic. Chop rosemary in half if the whole leaf frightens you.
Mix garlic, onion, rosemary, salt, and olive oil together in a large glass or ceramic casserole dish. ((The wider the dish, the more evenly baked your potatoes will be, since they won’t be stacked on top of one another. If you have a dish large enough to spread them out it a single layer, use it. My oven doesn’t even fit a dish that size, but I can dream.)) Add potatoes and stir until coated with the mixture.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. ((I have a convection oven, so I baked normally for 15-20 minutes then lowered the temperature to about 180C and turned the fan on, which crisped up the tops nicely.)) Keep an eye on your potatoes and stir whenever the top layer seems crispy enough, redistributing the undercooked ones to the top. Sprinkle a little paprika over the potatoes each time you stir.
If the garlic and onion are a little caramalized or burned in the end, great! The flavor will be that much better.
Serve immediately, crumbling feta on top to serve. Makes two servings for me, or a whole meal for a family of four.
Related: Don’t know what to do with all that leftover feta? Bake it with some pasta! Recipe here.