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The Beggars’ Banquet: Simple Roasted Potatoes

As autumn is starting to creep in to my kitchen (fresh apples for making homemade cider! onions in incredible variety! the last of the summer’s gorgeous chili pepper stock!), I have started rooting around for my favorite cool weather comfort foods, and one in particular stands out due to its simplicity: roast potatoes.

It’s so easy to do, and there are so many variations you can play on the basic theme, that I make it probably weekly right now. You need:

  • About a pound of small potatoes. These can be red, gold, fingerling – whatever. Small, smooth-skinned potatoes, rinsed but not peeled.
  • An onion of any kind except green.
  • Fresh herbs of your choosing
  • A little oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Any other spices you like
  • any other toppings you like

As I said there’s room for a lot of variation. So go ahead and turn your oven on to 425-450 degrees.

In a large glass 13×9″ baking pan, or on a cookie sheet, cover the bottom in oil. Layer on whole slices of onion. Use the whole onion. Cover the onions in whatever herbs you’ve chosen; I like fresh stalks of rosemary, or whole leaves of basil, or thick sprigs of thyme. Or whatever I happen to have in my kitchen at the time. I’m a little skeptical of bay leaves (overpowering) but they could be good, too.  

Chop your potatoes into bite sizes; I usually cut medium round red potatoes into 6-8 pieces. Leave the skins on. Scatter them across the bed of herb and onion; the herb and onion and oil will evaporate up into the potatoes and give them a lovely, light flavor. Toss salt (I use sea salt or table salt or a decadent truffle salt; whatever works) and fresh ground pepper on top. You can throw in peppers, tomatoes, cayenne pepper, parmesan cheese, etc., etc., etc. – whatever you think sounds good, go ahead and roast it in here. I hold cheese off till the last 5 minutes or so because otherwise it overcooks.

Roast for about 20-30 minutes, uncovered. (You’re checking for a light browning on top of the potatoes, and for a fork to feel soft entering potatoes in the middle of the pan.) When they’re done, remove and serve. The onions might stick to the pan – unfortunately, this just happens – but they are mainly there for flavor anyway. If you add about 1/3 c. of broth to the pan, they probably will not stick, and you will get even moister potatoes.

You can eat these as their own meal, or with omelets for breakfast. What do you put on your potatoes?

By Meghan Young Krogh

Meghan had a number of quality writing mentors over the course of her education, which just goes to show that you can't blame the teacher for the way the student turns out. Team Oxford Comma represent.

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