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Salt-Roasted Potatoes

The same technique I use to make salt-roasted Thai snapper works with small potatoes. Salt-roasting cooks them evenly, so they’re moist and creamy inside, and the spices and seasonings in the salt crust add just a hint of subtle flavor and mystery. Smashed and browned in oil, as described below, the potatoes make a nice passed appetizer when topped with crème fraiche and caviar. The salt-roasting technique can also be used for carrots, parsnips, turnips, and beets.–Mourad Lahlou

LC Boring? Note

And you thought potatoes were boring. Hah.

Salt-Roasted Potatoes Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 1 H, 25 M
  • Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces (about 2 cups) 2-inch new potatoes or 2-inch fingerlings
  • 3 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 2 star anise
  • 10 green cardamom pods, shelled and seeds reserved
  • 1/2 orange, preferably a blood orange, preferably organic
  • 1/4 large grapefruit, preferably organic
  • 1/2 lemon, preferably organic
  • 3 large egg whites
  • Grapeseed or canola oil (if sautéing the potatoes)
  • Rosemary leaves (optional)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for finishing (optional)
  • Crunchy sea salt (optional)

Directions

  • 1. Rinse and scrub the potatoes and then pat them dry. Place the salt in a large bowl and place a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil on your work surface.
  • 2. Combine the fennel, coriander, star anise, and cardamom seeds in a large skillet or pan and set it over medium heat. Let it warm, occasionally tilting the pan to toss or swirl or scuttle the spices around so they toast evenly, until the spices are fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Tip the spices onto the parchment paper or foil and let cool.
  • 3. Grab the edges of the paper or foil and tilt half the cooled spices into a spice grinder. Coarsely grind them and pour them into the bowl of salt. Repeat with the remaining spices.
  • 4. Finely grate the zest from the orange, grapefruit, and lemon, preferably using a microplane. You should have about 1 generous tablespoon total of zest. Use your fingertips to mix it into the salt mixture.
  • 5. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
  • 6. Beat the egg whites until they’re just beginning to hold their shape, then fold them into the salt mixture.
  • 7. Line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Pour enough of the salt mixture into the dish to create a 1-inch-thick bed. Arrange the potatoes on the salt in a single layer. Cover with the remaining salt mixture. The potatoes should be completely encased with salt and spice.
  • 8. Roast until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes for 1-inch potatoes or 35 minutes for 2-inch potatoes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • 9. For potatoes served whole, dump them in a bowl, toss with fresh rosemary leaves, if desired, and drizzle with olive oil.

    For thin, chip-like potatoes, place the potatoes between pieces of parchment paper lightly brushed with oil and press a meat pounder or a heavy skillet against them to flatten. Heat a generous film of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the potatoes on both sides to brown, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Drain on the paper towels. Add some rosemary leaves to the oil and fry and crisp them for about 30 seconds. Arrange the potatoes on a plate and sprinkle with crunchy sea salt and the rosemary. (The potatoes can be stored in olive oil in the fridge for up to 3 days.)
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