Stanley Tucci’s English Roast Potatoes

I’ve been a big fan of Stanley Tucci since the first time I saw “Big Night,” the 1996 film about two brothers opening a restaurant, in which he co-starred and co-wrote. I also looked forward every week to watching his TV series “Searching For Italy,” where he traveled to a different region of Italy, explaining the local food specialties. When his memoir  “Taste” was published a couple of years ago, I devoured the stories about his upbringing, identifying with so many of the vignettes. Tucci is married to an English woman, Felicity Blunt, whom he credits with this recipe. My own British relative — my son-in-law — tells me that his mother makes potatoes in a similar way, although she coats them in flour before roasting in the oven. I tried making them both ways, but decided the flour coating wasn’t really necessary. What I love about these potatoes is not only the taste — they’re crunchy on the outside and creamy inside — but the fact that much of the work can be done ahead of time. First you boil the potatoes for a few minutes — they shouldn’t get fully cooked. Then drain them and give them a good shake in the pot to “rough them up.”  Place the potatoes on a rack to dry for at least 15 minutes. You can do this hours ahead of time and just let them sit on the kitchen counter on the rack until you’re ready to finish the potatoes. When you’re ready to roast the potatoes, heat some olive oil in a baking sheet at high temperature until the oil is smoking hot.

Then dump the potatoes into the hot oil (careful not to burn yourself), lower the temperature and roast until golden brown, turning once or twice. This could take anywhere from a half hour to 60 minutes.

Turn them onto a serving platter and sprinkle with salt and if desired, some minced rosemary. These are a perfect accompaniment to steaks, chops and roasted meats.

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English Roast Potatoes
  • 3 pounds baking potatoes, peeled cut into 1½-2 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons salt to put into the water
  • abundant boiling water
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt to season the potatoes
  • minced rosemary, to season the potatoes
  1. Add salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the peeled potato chunks to the boiling water and lower to a simmer for 8 minutes.
  3. They won't (and shouldn't) be fully cooked.
  4. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot, shaking the pot to "rough up" the potatoes,"
  5. Place the drained potatoes on a rack for at least 15 minutes to dry.
  6. You can make the recipe up to this step even hours ahead of time.
  7. When ready to roast, place the olive oil in a baking sheet and put into an oven that's been preheated to 425 degrees.
  8. Keep the baking sheet in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until it's smoking hot.
  9. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and place the potato chunks into the hot oil, being careful not to burn yourself.
  10. Toss them to coat in the oil.
  11. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast the potatoes for 45-60 minutes, flipping them once or twice to make sure they brown evenly.
  12. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt and finely minced rosemary (or parsley if that's your preference.

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