Published May 1, 1998.
For a crisp, dense, velvety roast potato, take low-starch potatoes, cover for part of the cooking time, and flip them once.
Often, roast potatoes are a greasy mess, lacking texture or flavor; other times they are dry and brittle, speckled with bitter remnants of burnt garlic.
From the very beginning of testing, we knew exactly how we wanted our roast potatoes to look and taste. They would be crisp and deep golden brown on the outside, with moist, velvety, dense interior flesh. The potato's slightly bitter skin would be intact, providing a contrast with the sweet caramelized flavor that the flesh develops during roasting. Rich but never greasy, our potatoes would be accompanied by the heady taste of garlic and herbs. But what would we have to do to arrive at this ideal state?
Use a waxy potato such as Red Bliss, which is better able to retain moisture than classic baking, or high-starch, potatoes. Covering the potatoes with foil for part of their roasting time helped cut the cooking time (and keep the potatoes moist); this let the potatoes steam in their own moisture. With its higher smoking point, olive oil (rather than butter) was better able tolerate the high temperature (425 degrees) at which we were roasting the potatoes. Finally, we faced the decision of how best to add garlic. It burned when we put it directly on the potatoes before or during roasting--even five minutes in the oven burned the garlic. Our solution to this problem was to toss the potatoes with raw mashed garlic right after they came out of the oven. This gave them a strong garlic flavor without the raw bite of uncooked garlic.list of recipes