I strive to master simple dishes. I don’t aspire to be a person of whom one says, “What an ambitious cook!” or “She should really open her own restaurant!”
No. I want to be someone who can be trusted to prepare a good, well-rounded, home-cooked meal. A meal that has personality, yes, but one that doesn’t try too hard, and relies chiefly on good taste and good technique.
This is why I had long been frustrated by my limited potato roasting skills. Oh, I’d roasted my share of potatoes, but I had never been able to make perfect roasted potatoes, golden and generously crusty on the outside, moist and tender on the inside.
By the time the chunks had developed enough of a crust, the flesh had begun to dry up inside, and I was left with something a bit cardboard-y. Not inedible — it takes considerable effort to render a potato inedible in my book — but not my platonic image of the roasted potato, either.
And then some years ago, my friend Pascale* shared the recipe she uses for pommes de terre rôties, which she learned from her British mother-in-law. I have blind kitchen faith in Pascale — she has never steered me wrong — and I was very excited about her technique, a classic in British cooking that was unknown to me at the time.
Here, let me show you in this video: