Are these the “Special Potatoes”?

We were watching Sunday night’s Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown visit to the Greek islands and twice he mentioned a “special potatoes” dish, as if it always appears with Greek meals. After the second mention, we looked at each other and asked “What the heck are special potatoes?” He never said, and I still don’t know, but I’m pretending that he meant these roasted potatoes with garlic, lemon, and oregano. We’re not having lamb or fish or any meat you might find in Greece—just burgers—and it is cold and rainy, instead of sunny and beachside, but maybe these potatoes will add a little sunshine to an otherwise ordinary meal.

And, by the way, it was a really lovely episode, very relaxing and beautiful, like you expect a vacation to be, and it was nice to see Bourdain being domestic, making food for his friends.

I’m following the recipe on Epicurious without variation, even down to using fresh lemon juice and fresh oregano. I do have doubts that 3 pounds of potatoes will fit nicely in the suggested 9″ x 13″ dish without being crowded, and the roasting time seems short, but I’ll give it a chance. If you read the comments below the original recipe, you will find a few complaints, but I have advice about those:

  1. Some readers complained about the potatoes coming out mushy, but you need to use baking potatoes and you need to cut them into the suggested size of 1.5″ chunks. Don’t guess; get a ruler. These are big chunks that stand up to the cooking and all the liquids in the recipe (olive oil, chicken stock, lemon juice) without becoming mushy.
  2. Many readers thought the 1/2 cup of olive oil was too much, but I think they didn’t weigh their potatoes. Three pounds is a lot—it took 4 large bakers to reach 3 lbs—1/2 cup of oil was not too much.

Get a scale and a ruler and make sure you use baking  potatoes.

Epicurious: Roasted Potatoes with Garlic, Lemon, and Oregano

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 400°

Ingredients:

3 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and cut in 1.5″ chunks

1/2 cup olive oil (I used extra-virgin)

1.5 teaspoons dried oregano

4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1.5 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon salt

coarse ground black pepper, to cover lightly

1/2 cup chicken stock (or beef is suggested)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with oil, garlic, dried oregano, and salt. Place the potatoes in a single layer in a 13-x-9-inch baking dish and sprinkle with pepper—they were a little crowded and not quite in the single layer called for. I would use a larger dish next time for more browning.
  2. Bake the potatoes for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the stock, toss and bake for 10 minutes more.
  4. Add the lemon juice, toss and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the potatoes are cooked through. You can achieve more browning by letting them roast for 5-10 minutes more or you can put them under a broiler. I let mine go 5 minutes longer after adding the stock and after adding the juice and they were still not mushy—baking potatoes can stand up to it.
  5. Sprinkle with the fresh oregano and serve at once.

This is a very nice potato dish that would work for a variety of meals, for friends, family or company. Glamorous and flavorful, even with burgers.

Author: Barbara

I have a PhD in American Literature and taught in higher education for over twenty years and directed two Centers for Instructional Technology before retiring.

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