A little something on the side: Simple, Spicy Roasted Potatoes

by Terry B on January 3, 2007

Baking and sweet potatoes join forces with cayenne pepper for a lively side. Recipe below.

First things first. I’m doing two postings today—so after you read about this easy, tasty side dish, be sure to check out the cool tool I found at Ikea.

This roasted potato dish is roughly based on one I found on epicurious.com. That recipe used only sweet potatoes. As you can see from the photo, I used both sweet potatoes and baking potatoes. I started doing this because one of my daughters, the antithesis of picky eater by just about any measure, for some reason doesn’t like sweet potatoes. Now I use both because I think the dish looks and tastes more interesting with both. You can use just sweet potatoes or just baking potatoes, if you like.

I like these roasted potatoes for a few reasons. First, when I’m jonesing for some french fries, these will kind of satisfy that craving without all the frying evils. That said, I do indulge my fries desires on occasion, but only on occasion. As Oscar Wilde said, “All things in moderation, including moderation.”

Second, the kick of a little cayenne pepper and the mixing of sweet and baking potatoes actually makes them more interesting than fries, I think. More versatile too. You can pair them with burgers, roast chicken, salmon… or pan seared, bone-in pork chops, as I did the other night.

And finally, after a few minutes of simple prep work up front, you’ve got about a half hour to pull together the rest of the meal while the potatoes roast.

Spicy Roasted Potatoes
Serves 4

1 Russet baking potato, 1/2 to 3/4 pounds
1 sweet potato, about the same size [see Kitchen Notes]
1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra for baking sheet
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper [or more—see Kitchen Notes]
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Peel potatoes. Cut each in half lengthwise. Then cut each half into quarters lengthwise to create wedges. I do this by placing each half facedown on cutting board and cutting it in half lengthwise again. Then keeping the two quarters together, I carefully slice into one quarter at a 45º angle while pressing against the other quarter. I then rotate the whole shooting match 180º and repeat the process. The telling is far more complicated than the doing; once you’ve tried it, you’ll see how easy it is.

Rinse the baking potato wedges in a bowl of cold running water for a minute or so, then pat them dry with a paper towel. This will remove excess starch that would make them tend to stick to the baking sheet.

Place all potato wedges in a large bowl and drizzle the 1-1/2 teaspoons of olive oil over them and toss to coat. Sprinkle the salt and cayenne pepper over the potatoes and grind a generous amount of pepper over them. Then toss to spread the seasonings. I generally mix the salt and cayenne pepper in one of a couple of empty salt shakers I keep handy for just this purpose—it makes it easier to distribute seasonings evenly.

Grease a rimmed baking sheet with a little olive oil and arrange the potato wedges in a single layer—don’t allow them to touch. Roast them in the middle of the oven for about half an hour total, turning them halfway through, until tender and browned.

Kitchen Notes

Choosing your potatoes. Your main goal is to choose potatoes with fairly uniform shapes so you end up with relatively uniform wedges. This is not always the easiest of tasks with sweet potatoes, since they often grow in wildly twisty shapes.

What is spicy? The original recipe called for a measly 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I followed the directions to the letter the first time and was sorely disappointed. Not sure what pantywaist thought that tiny amount constituted spicy. As it is, the 1/4 teaspoon I recommend registers as only a subtle spicy note. Start there—you can always ramp it up the next time you make this dish if you like serious fire in your food.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Tanya January 3, 2007 at 2:40 pm

Oh, man, my mouth is watering over this one! I bake fries, but they never look this good.

sher January 4, 2007 at 4:15 pm

Great photo! And thanks for this. I love fries and think potatoes are very healthy when fixed like this. And I love sweet potatoes combined with white potatoes.

Mimi January 5, 2007 at 2:44 am

That photo is stunning. Your post is flawless. Just beautiful. What a treat!

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe January 5, 2007 at 7:36 pm

we make home fries similar to this…but I like the extra kick! Love your photos~ I’ll be back.

Patricia Scarpin January 5, 2007 at 11:46 pm

Hi, Terry!
First time around here!

I’m a huge potato fan and this recipe looks terrific. The potatoes look so crunchy and savoury, I should give this a try!

You just won my heart by quoting Oscar Wilde. He’s my favorite writer.

Regards from Brazil,

Nicole January 6, 2007 at 7:40 am

Hi there! I also like to use a combination of sweet and baking potatoes when I make a recipe similar to this. The spicier the better! My husband likes them with a homemade honey mustard dipping sauce. Beautiful photo and I love your writing! I’m always won over by Oscar Wilde quotes 😉

Terry B January 7, 2007 at 3:31 pm

Aw, shucks, folks. Thanks for all the great comments.

Patricia–the potatoes aren’t exactly crunchy [one thing I do love about actual fries], but they’ve got that nice, I don’t know, crustiness that roasted vegetables tend to get. And the insides are nice and tender. And as an aside, the fact that you’ve found Blue Kitchen and are commenting on it from Brazil speaks to what a totally amazing, world changing thing the Internet is.

Nicole–if “the spicier the better” is the rule in your kitchen, definitely increase the cayenne pepper. I know spiciness is highly subjective, but 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne just delivers a subtle spicy note in this recipe, as far as I’m concerned.

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