Sliced roasted potatoes

Sliced roasted potatoes

When I was in high school, my friend Brownyn and I discovered Tristan Tzara and the Dada manifesto. We were very taken with it! I suppose, to a pair of eccentric teenagers, there was comfort in the idea of tearing down all the rules and conventions and replacing them with something that seemed like meaningful nonsense or meaningless sense. I re-read the manifestos (there area a couple) the other day, and I like the parts of it that makes sense to me, which I suppose is the point of it. They say, “it is terribly simple, to launch a manifesto, you have to want: A, B, & C and fulminate against 1, 2, & 3.” I’m paraphrasing, and getting it all mixed up, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind. It makes me want to write a manifesto! (The rusty little gears are whirring and whining!) If I were to write An Ordinary Manifesto, perfect simplicity would be a big part of it. I think there’s great beauty in simple things, if they’re well-seasoned, and this applies to food, and art, and life. Frequently I like the seasoning to be complex, but sometimes the seasoning should be simple as well. A little salt, a little pepper.

I think of potatoes as the ultimate blank canvas in food. They take so well to other flavors and textures. But they do have a flavor all their own, a lovely flavor. And each type of potato has its own distinctive flavor and texture. It’s easy to lose sight of that when you combine them with lots of other ingredients. Prepared simply, like this, with only olive oil, salt and pepper, their pleasing potato-y-ness glows through.

Here’s the Budos Band with Sing a Simple Song.

2 smallish potatoes per person. The potatoes I used weren’t the tiniest, they were about two inches long and an inch wide.
olive oil
salt and pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil. Scrub the potatoes and drop them in the boiling water. Boil them for about 7 minutes, till you can stick a sharp knife in without any trouble, but they’re not completely soft. Drain and cool enough to handle.

Slice the potatoes on one side, about 3/4 of the way through, in slits about 1/4 inch wide. Pour enough olive oil over to coat them all in a thin layer. (Maybe a tablespoon per potato, depending on the size of the potato).

Spread them in an even layer in a roasting pan big enough to comfortably hold them with some space between them.

Preheat the oven to 425 (I used the convection roast option, but if you don’t have that this will still work). Roast for 30 – 40 minutes, turning from time to time so they cook evenly and they’re evenly coated with oil. When they’re done they should be getting brown and crispy, and should be soft in the center. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and serve.


9 thoughts on “Sliced roasted potatoes

  1. That sounds like a simple winner, potatoes are my favorite fruit. Never thought of doing them like that, I’ll give it a go. Have you ever had real new [English] potatoes with butter and mint? They’re only available for a short time but are worth praying for though like lots of things, they ain’t what they used to be. They’ve hybridised the taste out of them but they’re still good. Grow your own.

    • When I lived in England when I was much younger (30 years ago) I remember a friend of our parents making new potatoes with butter and mint. I still remember it! It made quite an impression!

      I was thinking the other day of the apples we used to eat in England. Small but wonderfully flavorful. Nothing like that here! Not even fresh from an orchard in Autumn.

      • Claire. I grew up eating those apples so when I finally bought a house I planted an orchard of various English heirloom apples, they’re just about ready, I ate the first ripe one yesterday.

      • The above postal exchange between Claire and Gone Foreign got me to googling. ( and dreaming of a storybook heirloom England)

        I found this place in Vermont:

        I wonder if their apples taste like the good ole days?

        Somewhere someone must be growing heirloom potatoes. I found a site that sells heirloom potato seeds, but they had an invasive ad, so I won’t post here. Seems the heirloom tubers are out there. But who has heirloom soil?!

        Apple scents the air here this morning. An autumn wink. Ah.

  2. There’s a name for this way of roasting potatoes – Hasselback potatoes, invented in Sweden at the Hasselbacken restaurant.

    On tatste, it’s not just hybridisation to blame. The reason Jersey potatoes, once so delicious I could eat a pound by myself, are no longer worth buying is that they are growing them in polytunnels and using commercial fertiliser instead of the traditional seaweed.

    • What!?! I didn’t invent this!?! Shucks! I must have seen a picture somewhere. I’ve never seen it in a cookbook, but I must have seen it online somewhere.

      Thanks for leaving a comment. I’m sure you’re right about the taste of things. Everything from my garden or the farm tastes so much better.

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