These easy to make crispy oven-roasted potatoes are crackly crisp on the outside with a tender fluffy inside and are made without frying.Jump to Recipe
It was walking home from my ceramics class last week that I found out my childhood friend Chris has passed away. I was staring at my phone, scrolling through Facebook when his brother Tim wrote about his passing on. I stood there in the BART train, the world passing by in a blur out the windows as I tried to absorb the information of a world without him. Chris and I weren’t close but he was an integral part of my childhood, something that now seems even farther away than it did 5 minutes before I turned on my phone.
Chris’ death wasn’t a surprise. He was in hospice care for cancer and everyone who knew him, knew the eventual outcome. But knowing something and having it actually happen are two different things. I’m reaching an age in my life where people I know are starting to pass away, and not just in that weird fluke of a car accident sort-of-way. No one has died that I am super close to, no one in my immediate circle of friends, but acquaintances that I know, friends of friends, spouses of friends or folks I’ve met a couple of times have all passed away. But Chris was someone I grew up with, not necessarily in my current immediate circle but not so distant either. He was someone I ran around with in grade school, who slept over in my house in third grade, who we made fake newspapers together, who sat next to me in math class. I still remember his goofy grin and the jokes he cracked. So many hilarious jokes. And though we grew apart in junior high and rarely hung out in high school, I still considered him a friend.
I lost track of Chris for years after high school and college. And then, through the miracle of social media and Facebook, we reconnected. He was a doctor now, someone who helped save lives. He was on the ground helping folks during Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy as well as the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri. In fact, he was one of the first responders to the World Trade Center on 9/11, and it’s that selfless action in NY at ground zero which exposed him to materials that led to his cancer. Three years after he was diagnosed, 16 years and one day after the terrorist attack on 9/11/01, Chris left this world.
I am not the right person to write any sort of memorial for him. Though we were connected on Facebook, my interaction with him was cursory at best. We held very different viewpoints on a lot of things but he respected me just as I respected him and he was always intelligent, respectful and witty (often all at once) with most of his FB posts. It’s an odd thing, mourning for someone who wasn’t a close friend but wasn’t a stranger either, but rather something in-between. I don’t know how to do the “in-between” very well in most aspects of my life; it is usually all or nothing for me. Yet here I was confronted with this very “in-between” grief. It’s weighed heavy on my in mind for the past week.
The most significant Facebook interaction I had with Chris happened about five years ago and is burned into my memory. A mutual high school acquaintance had started posting about Chick-Fil-A and their opposition of same-sex marriage back in 2012. This old classmate of ours was outraged that liberal folks were boycotting Chick-Fil-A and posted numerous times about supporting Chick-Fil-A by buying as many chicken sandwiches and waffles fries as he could. I was fed up at this point and decided I just didn’t need this man’s posts showing up on my feed. So I unfriended him (something I never do) and then actually posted about unfriending him (something I also never do) because I couldn’t deal with the hatred that I was encountering against same-sex marriage from him and others like him.
Most of my friends rallied behind my decision and told me that I didn’t need this guy in my life. But Chris comment gave me a different perspective. It’s not that I needed this man in my life, but perhaps, he needed me in his life. Though Chris supported same-sex marriage and had a number of same-sex couple friends, Chris was also political conservative on a lot of issues. And he knew that there were others who were equally conservative but didn’t have same-sex couples in their life. Photos and posts about myself with my partner AJ seamless appear in everyone’s Facebook feed if I am friends with them, regardless of their political leanings. The simple act of having a gay couple show up on someone’s feed along with their straight couple friends normalized same-sex relationships. And, by showing folks like AJ and me living our lives the way we did, this normalization had the potential to undo prejudices. Unfriending someone like that just narrows his viewpoint even more. That advice stuck with me all these years, and I’ll always remember Chris for that.
As always, when my emotions get too much for me to deal with, I head into the kitchen. I’ve been meaning to write about my crispy oven-roasted potatoes recipe forever. I even posted about them on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and immediately had folks asking about them. I don’t have a story about how these potatoes directly relate to Chris. As I said before, I wasn’t close to him, and I don’t even have a clue what his favorite food. I can’t tell you a cute story about how much he loved potatoes (though I’m sure he liked them, I mean, who doesn’t like potatoes). I can’t tell you how we shared a meal one evening and oven-roasted potatoes were an integral part of that dinner. I haven’t seen Chris since high school, some 25+ years ago, much less shared a meal together. I can make up some nonsense about how he was a meat and potatoes type of guy, a true American hero and these potatoes are a tribute to him. But that’s the sort of whimsical ridiculousness that flattens out a human being into a two-dimensional analogy, one that doesn’t do justice for a man who impacted so many people in so many ways.
But I will say this. These potatoes are comfort food for me. They are the sort of easy-to-make, unadorned side item that look great, taste amazing, and goes with pretty much anything and everything you serve them with. And if Chris were around and we did share a meal together, I’d probably make him something semi-fancy as a main course (because, you know, I’m semi-fancy, and wanted to try to casually impress him since I hadn’t seen him ages) and then make these potatoes to go along with them. But that’s not going to happen. Because Chris is gone, and I’m here at home, eating these potatoes and wondering yet again, why bad things happen to good people.
CRISPY OVEN ROASTED POTATOES
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped
- 3 medium Russet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Sea salt
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 475ºF. Place the olive oil, garlic and rosemary in a large microwave safe bowl and cover with a large heavy plate or plastic wrap. Place in the microwave and cook on high for 1 minute. While the oil is heating up, peel the potatoes and cut them into 10 wedges each.
- Once the potatoes are cut and the oil is heated, take bowl out of the microwave and carefully spoon about 5 tablespoons of the oil onto a rimmed baking sheet, leaving as much garlic and rosemary in the bowl (don’t worry if some gets onto the baking sheet). Tilt the pan left and right to spread the oil all over the bottom of the pan.
- Place the potato wedges in the bowl with the remaining oil, garlic and rosemary. Toss gently to coat, then cover again with the large plate. Cook in the microwave for 3 minutes, gently stir and toss potatoes, and return to the microwave to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the edges of the potato wedges start looking a little translucent.
- Once the potatoes are done, sprinkle the cornstarch, salt and pepper over the potatoes and gently stir to coat.
- Place the coated potatoes on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Flip all the potatoes, making sure to move some of the lesser done potatoes to the edges, and some of the more browned potatoes to the center of the pan.
- Bake an additional 10 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are crispy brown. Sprinkle with more salt and chopped parsley and serve immediately.
If you like these crispy potato oven fries, check out these other potato recipes:
Garlic and Leek Mashed Potatoes
Herb Roasted Potatoes
Jane, The Heritage Cook says
What a thoughtful and touching post Irvin. He was obviously a very special person, one who touched you deeply. People like that never really leave us because their impact is so powerful that it lingers for years and sometimes a lifetime. I’m sorry for your loss but am glad you had the time you did with Chris – and I know he is with you in spirit, still cracking jokes and making you laugh.
Parece muito bom, que bom que tem a receita pra gente fazer e comprovar se é tão gostoso quanto a aparência. Acredito que vou gosta muito.
Shanna @ Pineapple and Coconut says
Very sorry to hear about the death of your friend. I too have had friends die over the years, some close, some like your friend Chris, whom I had grown up with but went our own ways then reconnected via social media. And it does seem that life takes away the good ones too soon. I have a few friends that have passed away that I wish were still around. Makes you realize how short life really is.
These potatoes look really good. I love oven roasted potatoes. I am making my weekly meal plan today and I will add these to one of our dinners this week.
Jacqueline Church says
Grief has many forms. I’m so sorry he gave his life, literally, by coming to the aid of others as a first responder. That speaks volumes about him. I’m sure he would have love these potatoes and the dinner you might have made him. Who can we bring to the table or to our social media feed, who maybe needs to see and hear an alternate voice? Very thoughtful and lovely post.
Thank you for sharing your memories of Chris with us. His character speaks for itself. I’m taking to heart his advice regarding FB. Beautifully put. May the visions and dreams he held dear be honored and remembered by those who knew him.
Ralph Sciutti says
As usual a wonderful way to tie a slice of life (and unfortunately death) into your always captivating blog. Chris offered some sound advice that needs to be the norm and not the exception.
The potatoes look yummy as does everything you put up. Thx.
Sabrina Modelle says
I love you, my friend, and I love your honesty. It’s hard to sit with the loss of someone you were once close to. We face just a bit more of our own mortality with each of these deaths. Know that I’m thinking of you and loving you extra. ❤️❤️
Terry Oliver says
This recipe grabbed my attention, because, you know, potatoes. Then I was captured by your touching story about your friend, Chris. I also have lost a friend or 2 along the way. It never gets easier but we learn to accept it. I am sending hugs out to you today!
Erin R. says
What a lovely read. And you’re exactly right, it is exposure to unfamiliar things that that can change our minds. Having grown up in a very religious house, I truly believed homosexuality was wrong and sinful (gay marriage wasn’t even on the radar back then). It wasn’t until I grew up and met a few gay people who turned out to be, you know, PEOPLE, that I began to realize it wasn’t what I had thought. I was able to leave behind a very unfair mindset through simple human contact, rather than thinking I was an expert on something I had never even seen. Thank you for telling us, and thank you, Chris, for the original idea. It says a lot about you that you were able to hear what Chris was trying to tell you and take it to heart. You are right, it does help to see
What a nice story. A beautifully written story. Chris seemed very wise. So sad he had to die so prematurely. And to end up with cancer just for being a first responder seems so unfair. But nobody knew. Thanks.
Bigg Boss contestants says
This is really a nice post 🙂 Seriously a very well written article, I’m touched. I’m sorry for your loss.
I think there’s some guilt about childhood friendships. That maybe if we’d tried harder, we would maintain that same connection. Not possible of course.
I tend to shut out people who aren’t open-minded thinking I don’t need that kind of energy in my life. I’ve never, ever considered that maybe they need me in theirs.
Isadora Guidoni says
Such lovely memories and words regarding your friend! And now I’m really curious to try this recipe, the potatoes look delicious!
Sounds tasty…it looks divine! Nice pics =)
[email protected] says
Thank you for sharing all these kinds of potatoes recipe for us. I love to eat potatoes. I always cook potato floss. BTW, love the story you told. I would like to try the recipe when I am free.
vex 3 says
This is an gluten-free appetizer or snack. Super delicious, budget-friendly, kids-friendly food. I really like this dish.
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. My son loves the Vesuvio potatoes at Maggiano’s and I have been searching for an easy recipe that will be as close to those potatoes as possible. He is a very picky eater, so when I saw this recipe I thought I would try it out. Well, I made them tonight and my son and everybody else absolutely LOVED them! It sounds crazy, but during this coronavirus and being quarantined, making a new recipe that my family enjoyed was a bright spot in my day! Thank you again. This recipe is definitely a keeper.