How To Cook Fingerling Potatoes

I get so annoyed, sometimes, watching America’s Test Kitchen. As I’ve mentioned before, my Saturday ritual is to watch all of the PBS cooking shows and America’s Test Kitchen is the one that took me the longest to warm up to. Whereas Lidia’s Italy lets you peer over the shoulder of a real Italian grandmother cooking for her family with a pinch of this and a pinch of that, cooking from the heart and not the brain, America’s Test Kitchen is as antiseptic as a science lab. In fact, the set feels like a science lab and that’s intentional. The whole concept of the show is that everything is tested scientifically. “We did it five hundred times and after creating flow charts and factoring thousands of equations, we determined this is the best way to make a corn muffin.” It’s so dry and sexless.

And yet, there are so many reason to watch. I do love Bridgett and Julia, I do love Adam and the enthusiasm he musters for measuring cups. And then there’s Elle Simone, my favorite of the many chefs who pop up now and again. Elle seems to be just as wary of the show she’s on as I am of watching it. Yet she has such a gleam in her eye when she’s sharing one of her techniques that it’s hard not to want to make exactly what she’s making after she makes it. Which is why I knew I had to make her fingerling potatoes after seeing her make them on Saturday.

Normally when I pick up fingerlings at the farmer’s market, like the ones above that I got at the Weisler Farms stand on Sunday, I just toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, throw them into a cast iron skillet, and roast them at 425 until crisp and golden brown all over.

But Elle Simone offers up a different technique: you use canola or grapeseed oil because it has a higher smoke point (which means the potatoes will get crispier).

You set the oven to 450 and then, most surprisingly, you cover the pan with foil for the first ten minutes.

This effectively allows the potatoes to steam with the moisture that’s already in them. It also allows the variously-sized potatoes to cook at the same time.

After ten minutes, you take the foil off and continue to roast for another 20 minutes or longer until the potatoes are crisp all over. Meanwhile, you chop some woodsy herbs: I used rosemary and thyme, Elle uses thyme and sage.

When the potatoes are just out of the oven, you sprinkle them with the herbs, which cook a little in the hot potatoes but still retain their punch because you add them at the end.

These potatoes were so dreamy. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and perfectly seasoned with the herbs, salt, and pepper.

Now you know why I keep watching America’s Test Kitchen, even though it’s so science labby. I guess in all areas we have to trust the scientists.

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Perfect Fingerling Potatoes

A fool-proof recipe for fingerling potatoes based on Chef Elle Simone’s technique.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 cups small assorted fingerling potatoes If any of the potatoes are much larger than the others, cut them in half.
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage (or any combination of the three)

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Place the potatoes in a cast iron skillet or baking pan. Toss with the oil and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper (at least a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper). Cover with foil and place in the oven for ten minutes.
  • Carefully remove the foil (use oven mitts) and roast another twenty minutes, shaking the pan every so often, until a knife goes through a potato easily and the potatoes are deep, golden brown and crispy.
  • Sprinkle immediately with the chopped herbs. Allow to cool for a few minutes and taste for salt and pepper. Serve right away.

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Mustard Roasted Potatoes (Smitten Kitchen)

Salsa Verde for Potatoes (Orangette)

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