Tuscan Potatoes

Ask Liz why she married me, and you'll hear the usual - for love, for money, it was her first time drinking Absinthe, etc. Ask her again, and she may tell you the truth: Tuscan potatoes.

No one is immune to their charms, and they are sooooo many. First, there's the aroma; earthy, sweet, salty and fresh, an oven full of these beauties drives the whole neighborhood wild with rosemary-scented desire. Then, there's their appearance, imperfectly cut and tumbling together, roasted brown and gold, flecked with green, glistening with oil. The satisfying crunch as you bite down, and the melts-in-your-mouth interior. Finally, the explosion of elemental flavors: potato, rosemary, salt and oil, ratcheted up beyond reason.

Tuscan potatoes are an extraordinary accompaniment to a grilled steak, a smoked tri-tip or a pork roast. They take a bit of work, but they're worth it.

2 Russet potatoes
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, about 5” long
1 tsp rosemary salt or kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Peel the potatoes, cut them lengthwise into quarters, then slice into roughly 1" chunks. Rinse in a bowl of cool water until the water runs clear, then soak them in cold water for about twenty minutes. This step removes the starch from the surface of the potatoes, enabling the delicious crunch.

Preheat the oven to 450F. If you're using a cast iron skillet (recommended*), put it in the oven to preheat.

Drain and dry the potatoes with a dish towel or paper towels.

Pour the oil into your skillet or a baking pan, then de-stem 2 sprigs of rosemary into the oil. (I usually throw in the stems, too.) Add the potatoes in single layer and toss to coat with the oil and rosemary. Put your pan into the oven on the top rack.

Roast for 30 minutes at 450F. Remove the pan from the oven, turn the potatoes with a spatula, and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, de-stem the other sprig of rosemary and chop it finely.

Check your potatoes: they should be mostly golden, with a few dark-brown patches. If they are pale, return them to the oven, checking at 5 minute intervals. My last oven consistently took a full hour, but my current oven (in convection mode) turns them out perfectly in 45 minutes.

When your potatoes are ready, toss them with chopped rosemary and salt (I use rosemary-scented salt, for a double kick) and serve immediately.

This recipe feeds two hearty appetites.

* I like to cook Tuscan potatoes in a 12" cast iron skillet, which produces a superior crusty texture but only holds about two medium potatoes. If you have a crowd to feed, use a baking pan with raised edges. If you don't have a 12" cast iron skillet, buy one. Today.

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