The Best Roasted Potatoes

Potatoes were not the primary carb in my house growing up, at least not in their whole potato form. We had mashed potatoes (from a box - gasp!) and sometimes potato salad in the summer, but our mainstay starchy deliciousness was rice, a holdover from my parent's Louisiana upbringing where everything is served on top of it (gumbo, etouffee) or mixed with it (jambalaya, red beans and rice).

As a kid, I actually avoided things that tasted too much like potato. Steak fries? Absolutely not. I wanted skinny, crunchy, well-browned strips that may have been a potato in a former life but were by that point simply delicious vessels for grease, salt, and mustard (never been a ketchup fan). And whole baked potatoes, which I loved, were in my favorite foods index simply because I slathered them in butter, sour cream, gooey cheese, and bacon. Without those "toppings," I wasn't all that interested.

So it took me a while to get into roasted potatoes. The first time I ordered hash browns alongside my omelet and found myself looking at diced potatoes instead of the familiar shredded Waffle House-style pile, I contemplated sending the plate back. What were these? Roasted potatoes? Masquerading as hash browns?

But as my brunch tooth grew (and grew and grew), I started to warm to these perfectly spiced, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside roasted potatoes. Those were the keys. They had to be spiced well - salted, maybe with a little spice, or an italian kick. They had to be crunchy on the outside. Soggy roasted potatoes are just a nonstarter. But crunchy all the way through won't work either. It's a delicate balance.

And this recipe from Emeril's Farm to Fork is that balance. They are perfect. Every. Time.

I've used russet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, those little round red potatoes. I've cut them in large chunks for dinner and diced them for breakfast. They are fabulous without fail.

I have made them so many times that I don't even use the recipe anymore, though the cookbook falls open to that exact page. Because I love thyme so much, I've added in a lot more than the original recipe, and I think that's part of what makes them my absolute favorite.

These are a teensy bit of extra work, but they are entirely worth it.

Roasted Potatoes
Very slightly adapted from Farm to Fork

2 pounds potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt (I use whatever I have)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme
2 heaping tablespoons fresh thyme
3 sprigs rosemary
2 tablespoons butter (I use earth balance)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Slice the potatoes into whatever size you want them - I usually quarter a fingerling potato. Remember to adjust your cooking time if you go very small or very big.
3. In a medium bowl add the olive oil, salt, paprika, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary. Add the potatoes and toss thoroughly, making sure all the potatoes are covered.
4. Place the sprigs on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the potatoes on top. Set the bowl aside.
5. Roast the potatoes for 20 minutes.
6. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and pour the potatoes and herbs into the bowl you set aside earlier. Add the butter (or earth balance) and toss well until melted.
7. Carefully return the potatoes to the hot baking sheet. Roast for another 15-20 minutes or until fork-tender. Discard the herb sprigs and serve.

p.s. My wife wanted me to start this post with AAAAAAAHHHH!!! THESE POTATOES ARE AMAZING!! AAAAAAAAH!!!!

p.s.s. My mama's peach cobbler, vegan-style.

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