- First, parboil them before roasting. Simmering starchy baking potatoes in water (seasoned with salt) gelatinizes a layer of starch on their exterior surfaces. This layer will then dehydrate and brown as the potato roasts, creating a thick, crisp shell.
- It’s easy to accidentally overboil baking potatoes, causing them to fall apart. To prevent this, add a tablespoon of plain white vinegar to each quart of water. The now lower pH of the water keeps pectin—a gluelike carbohydrate that holds plant cells together—from breaking down.
- Start potatoes in cold water, bring them to a boil, and cook for about 5 minites.
- The second trick: Increase surface area. After parboiling, add potatoes to a bowl with a bit of fat (olive oil works great), season with salt and pepper, and then roughly toss them, trying to smush up their surfaces. As you toss, you’ll notice a thin layer of mashed potato forming a coating around each chunk. It’s this layer that crisps up into the kind of crunchy shell that only the best French fries have.
- Once your potatoes have been parboiled and tossed, all that remains is to transfer them to a lightly greased rimmed baking sheet, put them in a 475° oven, and roast about 45 minutes or until crisp all over, flipping once or twice to make sure all the edges get browned.