Salt-Baked Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Butter

From America's Test Kitchen Season 12: Backyard Chicken Dinner

Why this recipe works:

Sometimes baked potatoes can use a flavor boost. And instead of light and fluffy, most often they are dense and crumbly. We found that baking the potatoes on a bed of salt remedied these problems. Moisture that escaped the potatoes during baking was trapped in the enclosed pan, absorbed by the… read more

Sometimes baked potatoes can use a flavor boost. And instead of light and fluffy, most often they are dense and crumbly. We found that baking the potatoes on a bed of salt remedied these problems. Moisture that escaped the potatoes during baking was trapped in the enclosed pan, absorbed by the salt, and eventually reabsorbed by the potatoes, making their skins tender and their flesh light and fluffy. All we needed to do was fine-tune the variables. Using a hot oven and uncovering the potatoes toward the end of cooking ensured dry, crisp skin. A 13 by 9-inch baking dish provided plenty of space so that we didn’t have to crowd the potatoes, and 2 1/2 cups of salt allowed us to thoroughly cover the bottom of the pan. A little rosemary and garlic added to the pan was all the flavor these spuds needed.

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Serves 4

Kosher or table salt can be used in this recipe. The salt can be strained to remove solid bits and reused for this recipe. The potatoes can be prepared without the roasted garlic butter and topped with other garnishes such as sour cream, chives, crumbled bacon, and/or shredded cheese.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • 2 sprigs plus 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 whole head garlic, outer papery skin removed and top quarter of head cut off and discarded
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Instructions

  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Spread 2 1/2 cups salt in even layer in 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Gently nestle potatoes in salt, broad side down, leaving space between potatoes. Add rosemary sprigs and garlic, cut side up, to baking dish. Cover baking dish with foil and crimp edges to tightly seal. Bake 1 1/4 hours; remove pan from oven. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.

    2. Carefully remove foil from baking dish. Remove garlic and set aside to cool. Brush exposed portion of each potato with 1 teaspoon oil. Return uncovered baking dish to oven and bake until potatoes are tender when pierced with tip of paring knife and skins are glossy, 15 to 20 minutes.

    3. Meanwhile, once garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze root end until cloves slip out of their skins. Using fork, mash garlic, butter, 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (or pinch table salt) and minced rosemary to smooth paste. Remove any clumped salt from potatoes (holding with kitchen towel if necessary), split lengthwise, top with portion of butter, and serve immediately.

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