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Super-crisp roasted potatoes and Peruvian-style roast chicken top October’s recipes

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s new cookbook, “The Food Lab,” might well be one of the big books of the season, but a couple of recipes from it have already found a home in the hearts of Southern California cooks. His super-crisp roasted potatoes was by far the most-downloaded recipe from our California Cookbook database and his Peruvian-style roast chicken with spicy jalapeño sauce was the second-most popular.

“The Food Lab,” which we reviewed early in the month, has already hit a couple of national bestseller charts. It’s a compendium of science-based cooking tips and experiments by the author of Serious Eats website’s Food Lab feature.

Following Lopez-Alt’s two recipes were perennial favorite best-ever mac ‘n’ cheese, scones from Na Young Ma’s Proof Bakery and an easy-to-make braised chicken with capers.

Rounding out the top 10 were the vegan “Key lime pie” from Gracias Madre restaurant, a classic pan-fried goat cheese salad from cookbook author Daniel Young, the Greek lemon chicken from Old Venice restaurant in Manhattan Beach, a re-creation of the famous Double Double from iconic local chain In-N-Out, and a summertime favorite, pan-fried trout by L.A. Times Test Kitchen Director (and noted fisherwoman) Noelle Carter.

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Super-crisp roasted potatoes

Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes | Serves 4 to 6

3 pounds baking potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes

Kosher salt

1/4 cup duck fat, bacon fat or olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, parsley and/or chives

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower-middle positions, and heat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with an inch of cold water. Season generously with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just barely cooked through, for about 10 minutes (a knife or cake tester inserted into a potato should meet little resistance). Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

3. Add the fat and a few generous grinds of pepper to the hot potatoes and toss well; the potatoes should end up with a thin coating of potato-fat paste.

4. Spray two rimmed baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray (or coat with a thin layer of oil). Transfer the potatoes to the baking sheets and roast until the bottoms are crisp, rotating the pans halfway through cooking, after about 25 minutes. Test the potatoes by trying to pry one or two pieces off the baking sheet with a stiff metal spatula. If they don’t come off easily, roast for additional three-minute increments until they do.

5. Flip the potatoes with the spatula, making sure to get all the crisped bits off the bottom, then continue to roast until golden brown and crisp all over, about 25 more minutes.

6. Transfer to a serving bowl, season to taste, and toss with chopped herbs.

Note: Adapted from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s “The Food Lab.”

Each serving: Calories 246; Protein 5 grams; Carbohydrates 39 grams; Fiber 4 grams; Fat 9 grams; Saturated fat 3 grams; Cholesterol 9 mg; Sugar 2 grams; Sodium 18 mg

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1.

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