Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Salt Roasted Potatoes

Since Carol asked why restaurant potatoes taste so much better than ones cooked at home - I can tell you the secret is salt.  Restaurants rub the skins with oil or bacon grease then rub with salt (no wholes are poked into the potato) then baked.  But I found a way to make them without a ton of salt sticking to the skin.

Salt Roasted Potatoes.

I'd heard the concept and lumped it in there with Radiator Roasted Rump Roast and Steam Engine Steamed Salmon , But after reading of it on Cooks Illustrated  Oct. 11 website, which had a recipe for salt roasted potatoes with thyme and shallots, I had to try a Johnson household edition.

Most recipes just call for burying a baker under a mound of salt. The premise is there is a moisture exchange between the salt and the spud, the moisture escaping the potato being absorbed by the salt and then reabsorbed by the potato making the interior, not only well seasoned, but very light and fluffy. Store brand salt was 32 cents   The four potatoes were about 50 cents (two for dinner, two chopped and reheated for home fries in the morning)  The worse case  scenario if these turned out like mortar rounds was I was only out  out a buck and there was still pork tenderloin, salad and garlic cheese biscuits (knock off Red Lobster version). if needed.

You start by laying 4 potatoes in about 2 and a half cups of salt (one 26 ounch package) in a 13 x 9 pan.   To the salt was added a clove of garlic and some sprigs of rosemary instead of the thyme and shallots.  In hindsight, I would have left some of the paper surrounding the garlic on there, so it didn't fall apart, and was a little softer at the end of cooking.

Cover TIGHTLY with foil and bake in the middle rack of a 450 degree oven for 1  hour and 15 minutes.  When there's 30 minutes left to cook, pop in a 1 and 3/4 - 2 pound pork tenderloin which you have rubbed with garlic and herbs and laid in a small glass pan on top of a little EVOO and salt, then covered with foil.

When time is up, remove potatoes and pork.  The pork should be about medium rare,  Keep foil on it, set on a trivet and allow to finish cooking to medium with the foil on it.  Remove foil from potatoes and remove the garlic to a small dish while you raise the heat on the oven to 475 degrees (my oven tends to be "hot" so 475 worked better than the 500 degrees the web recipe called for)  Brush the tops of the potatoes with a Tablespoon or so of EVOO and return to oven for 15-22 minutes. 

While that finishes, squeeze the garlic bulbs gently (and carefully, they're hot) to remove the garlic pulp and mix with a big pinch of chopped fresh rosemary and 4 Tablespoons of butter and a dash of sea salt to make a paste.

The potato skin will be dark golden brown and firm, but when poked with a knife, the interior should be quite soft when done.  Remove any clumped salt from the bottom of the potato with a clean kitchen towel , and serve with the garlic herb butter. (The salt in the pan can be strained and reused for another batch of potatoes before discarding).

Seriously, this was the best baked potato I've ever had. The interior was incredibly soft and fluffy, with a hint of garlic and rosemary in it, even without the butter and  there was no  "salty" taste.  The skin was crisp but not shoe leather, making it easy to scoop out the well seasoned flesh with a spoon.

Inexpensive, easy and delicious, that's what home cooking is all about.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Thanks for that! I would never guess that they are baked in a ton of salt like that!



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