When our Test Kitchen Director Robby Melvin owned a professional catering company, his clients would rave over his roasted potatoes and root vegetables. While he was happy to let them think he was a genius in the kitchen, he also knew that the secret to making the best oven-roasted vegetables is also one of the easiest tricks he knew.
The ideal roasted potato has a caramelized exterior with a nearly creamy consistency on the interior, but just throwing diced potatoes on a baking sheet with some olive oil won’t accomplish the mission. It may be the reason that your homefries end up dry and shriveled rather than crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
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The easiest way to make restaurant-style roast potatoes: boil them before your roast them. More specifically, boil whole Yukon Gold, new, or red potatoes until tender. Drain, and let them cool. Then cut into uniform pieces whether that’s quarters or a medium dice. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, and roast as usual.
We won’t get to science-y behind this secret, but the reasoning behind this technique is that the potatoes will already be cooked through so the energy from the oven will go toward caramelizing the outside rather than cooking the inside. According to Robby, this also works for all kinds of root vegetables from carrots to turnips and even beets.
One last pro-tip: don’t crowd your sheet pan if you want extra-crispy potatoes. When potato pieces are close together they start to steam instead of roast.