A recent trip to Southern Italy yielded many dishes that adapt readily from their local ingredients to ours, and have become weekly favorites, including this one for patate sabbiose or sandy potatoes. Essentially potatoes roasted with breadcrumbs, this combination of humble ingredients results in potatoes that are crunchy and caramelized on the outside, and soft and steamy on the inside. These add welcome texture to a winter meal, and are addictive enough to be enjoyed on their own or, if you find yourself inventing excuses to make them, go with most anything.
Like most simple recipes, this one is easily tweaked to suit your own way of cooking. The potatoes can be waxy or starchy, peeled or unpeeled, and the breadcrumbs left plain or seasoned with herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, savory or sage. A more local version might substitute rendered goose fat or lard for the olive oil. I also imagine trying this recipe with other root vegetables, ones that readily take to roasting, such as parsnips, carrots, rutabaga, and maybe even onions.
Potatoes, washed, and peeled (optional)
Dried breadcrumbs, finely ground
Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven at 400°F.
- Cut potatoes into wedges. Toss wedges with enough olive oil to coat well. Season with salt and pepper.
- Coat bottom of large roasting or baking pan with additional oil. Add potatoes to pan, and toss with enough breadcrumbs to coat lightly. Arrange wedges in one layer, pressing cut ends into breadcrumbs on bottom of pan.
- Roast 30 minutes. Remove from oven and turn each wedge over, this allows second side to brown. If needed, sprinkle with more breadcrumbs or oil. Finish roasting another 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.
- Check for seasoning and serve hot.
Homemade breadcrumbs: With so few ingredients, this dish benefits from using homemade breadcrumbs. Leave pieces or slices of bread out to dry; once completely dry, grind in food processor or blender until it resembles, well, breadcrumbs. Alternatively, wrap bread in kitchen or tea towel, and use a rolling pin to crush bread into crumbs. Make sure the breadcrumbs are dried thoroughly before storing in an airtight glass jar.
Hints: Depending on size of potato, allow 2 or 3 per person. Potato wedges should not be cut too thin; thick and thin ends will contribute to having different textures. It may seem fussy but arranging potatoes in one direction in the roasting pan will make it easier to turn them later.
Many thanks to Silvestro for his generosity in sharing his kitchen with us in Puglia — non vediamo l’ora di tornare!