Beyond the potato peel, a new lease on cuisine

Beyond the potato peel, a new lease on cuisine 

in Community/Featured/Headline

Life-changing potatoes may sound like a bit of an oversell, but I promise you: It isn’t. I’ll tell you why, and it involves a small confession on my part. A few months ago I was having a little bit of a food-writing lull. I was running short on ideas and inspiration, and was having a fairly significant “What is the point of all of this?” moment. Because let’s be honest, food writing, is a fairly noisy, inundated space. On top of that, it’s not as if dissecting the virtues of cilantro foam is a life-saving act.  

So needless to say, I was feeling a little down. Then, on a random Wednesday I read one of New York Times Food Editor Sam Sifton’s recipe-laden newsletters. This particular one included his recommendation for Greek Lemon Roasted Potatoes. I’m a sucker for a good potato recipe. Even more important, it looked simple enough and I had all of the ingredients. The mid-week culinary stars had aligned perfectly. 

With no extra effort than it takes to roast potatoes any other way, the end result was nothing short of magical. I think it’s because of the broth, oil and lemon bath in which they’re roasted, but these little cubes of wonder possessed a perfectly crispy, salty outer texture which then gave way to a soft, creamy center. It stopped me — and my husband — in our tracks. This recipe was quickly declared the only way to ever roast potatoes from then on, and we’ve stuck with that decree.   

As I was basking in the potato-fueled euphoria, I had a realization. Sifton’s recipe might not have saved my life, but it absolutely made an otherwise ho-hum Wednesday evening delicious and exciting. And that’s a win in and of itself. So I’m sharing the recipe here with all of you. Because sometimes saving a Wednesday night is just what the doctor ordered.  

New York Times’ Greek Lemon Roasted Potatoes  

 ½ cup chicken broth or water  

½ cup olive oil  

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 3-4 large lemons)*  

1 Tablespoon kosher salt  

3 pounds of large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6), peeled then halved lengthwise and crosswise* 

1 Tablespoon dried oregano (optional)  

Flaky salt and black pepper, for serving 

 *Ok so I lied a little bit in the article — I didn’t actually have lemons the first time I made this, and it was still delicious. Also, I have used multiple types of potatoes and the results are equally glorious.  

 Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the chopped potatoes onto a rimmed baking sheet.  
  2. Mix together the olive oil, broth and lemon juice and salt. I find it’s easiest to just pour it all into one liquid  measuring cup, and give it a few stirs.  
  3. Pour the liquid over the potatoes and mix it all around so the potatoes are coated evenly. 
  4. Make sure the potatoes are spread out in an even layer. The New York Times says to make sure they’re “cut side down”. That feels like a lot of effort to me. Just make sure the potatoes are spread out evenly.
  5. Sprinkle the oregano, if used.
  6. Pop the potatoes into the oven. Set a timer for 25-30 minutes, because you’ll want to flip the potatoes half way through the baking process. Bake for another 25-30 minutes (about 55-60 minutes altogether).
  7. If at the end of the cooking time the potatoes are cooked all the way through (tender with a fork) but not as crispy as you’d like them to be, switch to broiler mode and broil them for a few minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with flaky salt and black pepper to taste. 

 This story was originally published in the February print edition of Climate Magazine. 

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