For years, I’ve been a high-low potato roaster. Start on really high heat to crisp and brown the outsides of the potatoes, then lower the heat so that the potatoes can cook for a long time without burning and get a nice pillowy texture inside.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with the “Zuni Café method”, which calls for blanching the potatoes before roasting them so that the insides are well on their way to pillowy-ness well before they ever enter the oven.
Zuni’s Judy Rodgers didn’t invent this technique, of course, but a lot of people seem to know it from the Zuni cookbook. The blanching definitely helps with the interior texture of the potatoes, which come out almost creamy in the end.
But I kept having trouble getting a true crispy exterior. I tried jacking the heat up to 500F for longer periods of time, and I tried draining the potatoes for a little bit longer after blanching them. But I kept getting a slight, puffy softness to the outsides of the potatoes.
After lots of experimenting, two things seemed to make the most difference:
1 Preheating a cast-iron skillet in the 450F oven so that when your pour the potatoes into the skillet to put back in the oven, the sides in contact with the pan get an immediate char.
2 Broiling the potatoes on high for a few minutes just before taking them out of the oven. This guarantees a crackling crust even after you’ve let them cool for a few minutes before eating.
Recipe: Roasted Potatoes With Rosemary And Garlic (Cookthink)