Starch Madness (featuring Crispy Roasted Potatoes with Garlic Confit and Rosemary)
My personalities are in constant conflict.
There’s one who feeds on interaction. She’s inspired by theatre, music, food, and art; converting experiences into her own artistic creations. An adventurous thrill seeker, she loves new opportunities, especially with others. She’s funny and slim and has a welcoming smile.
The problem is, she’s unreliable.
The most dependable is a calculating personality of mine who is certain I’m wrong about most things. She’s strict and overbearing, judging every action I make with an iron fist. She fasts for many hours of the day and is merciless when I give in to cravings. My friends think she’s too mean to me when they meet her, but I think she’s got a lot of good points.
I am most often possessed by my practical personality. She is witty and realistic. She values deep conversations, respecting others, being on time if not early, and crossing tasks off a list. She’s anxious about things like recycling and taxes but not obsessively so. She cooks almost everything she eats, dyes her own hair, and could lose a few pounds. Both loyal and honest, she’s the kind of friend you want on your side.
Unfortunately, for most of my life, I’ve experienced a visitation by another personality. She’s terrified of most people – even good friends and family. She feels time disappear, unable to inject vitality into minutes the way it seems everyone else can. She cancels plans, is always sick, and is overweight.
I’ve tried to be the conductor of this symphony of psyches, attempting to game the system with medication, sleep, or exercise. Maybe if I walk another thousand steps the funny personality will show up to dinner. Maybe if I eat the right breakfast the responsible one will show up for the job. But I have little control over who arrives when. I’m more like a rodeo clown with a red nose and funny glasses trying to distract the bulls inside me from skewering my life. It’s really confusing and exhausting.
My only moments of harmony are in the kitchen.
When I’m focused on a cooking task I find a frequency of quiet that I hear nowhere else. There’s a serenity in movements that I’ve performed a million times in my life – the chopping of an onion, the searing of a steak, the whipping of some cream – no one needs to comment or instruct because my body knows how.
But then I’ll hear a little voice, “Some baking soda in that boiling water would help draw the starch to the surface of the potatoes, making them crispier.”
Then another voice, “I think it would be so much fun to roast those potatoes with some garlic!”
“You’re definitely going to overcook those!”
“We don’t need to measure anything, just eyeball it!”
“Potatoes are kind of fattening. Maybe we should skip em.”
And then, the smell of the garlic-roasted potatoes with rosemary hits the noses of all my personalities in one joyous crescendo.
“We’re not skipping anything! These potatoes are perfect!”
Finally, we can all agree on something.
So happy St. Patrick’s Day from all of me’s. These potatoes will satisfy everyone around your table!
Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Garlic Confit and Rosemary
* To “confit” something is to cook it over very low heat in fat. The literal translation is to “preserve.” Normally, confit cooking is done in a low-temperature oven, but I’ve found it’s very easy to confit garlic on the stovetop. I make a large batch of it at least once a month if not more. I use both the garlic and the oil in everything from salad dressings to hummus to potatoes to chicken. The soft sweetness of the garlic is much easier to digest and less spicy in a lot of dishes and the oil is luscious on everything.
This is a flexible recipe to feed however many people you have. I generally say 2 potatoes per guest, but I don’t know your guests. 😏
- 2 heads of garlic, cloves skinned but left whole
- Enough oil to cover garlic cloves by ½ inch or more (I use a combination of 25% olive oil, 75% avocado, or other vegetable oil with a low smoke point)
- Set garlic cloves and oil in a small pot. Heat on a very low flame on the stovetop. Never let the temperature get any higher than a low flame. Cook for 30 minutes. You’ll see the garlic brown and soften but it shouldn’t burn. Let cool and then keep in a covered container in the fridge. It’ll be good for at least one month.
Crispy Smashed Potatoes
- Small Yukon Gold potatoes
- Baking soda
- Garlic confit
- Salt and pepper
- Rosemary, chopped
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Put a pot of salted water on to boil, leaving enough room for however many potatoes you’ve got. Add a sprinkling of baking soda (I never measure it, but it’s probably somewhere around a teaspoon) to the water and then the potatoes. This will bring the starch of the potatoes to the surface making the crispy bits crispier. Cook at a rolling boil for 20 minutes for small potatoes, and 25 minutes for medium potatoes.
- Not emptying the pot, carefully pull the potatoes from the water and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using the bottom of a glass or jar (I always use the bottom of my metal cup measure because it’s wide enough for a good smashing and easy to clean), smash the potatoes. This should be easy to do. If it isn’t just put the potatoes back in the water (this is why I pull the potatoes out of the water and don’t just drain them. That water might still come in handy!)
- Drizzle the smashed potatoes with the garlic confit oil and garlic. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chopped rosemary, and roast for 25 minutes.
And I am happy to announce my return to KATU’s show, Afternoon Live.
Here’s me making these potatoes on the show: