I am a fan of all sorts of cheeses: hard, melted, fondue, spreadable– you name it. But by far my favorite is the kind that oozes onto the pan when you’re baking and gets super crispy in the process. You know what I’m talking about.
10 times out of 10 I am going to pick that burnt cheese off of the baking sheet and love every second of it.
When browned, cheese undergoes some chemical reactions that causes it to have deeper, nuttier, richer, and more complex flavors (in fact, this happens to all foods). The browning process responsible is called the Maillard reaction, which you’ve probably heard about before if you’re interested in food science. It’s the reason we crave the corner piece of lasagna, with its crisp noodles; the camp fire-charred marshmallows; the blistered, coal-fired pizza; and the grill-marked meats. It’s the reason I make Parmesan and Garlic Crusted Baked Potato Wedges.
To make these wedges perfect, I first boil them in vinegared water, which helps to cook the potato through while keeping it from getting mushy or falling apart in the baking phase. Then, I melted butter onto my baking sheet, and sprinkled shredded parmesan and minced garlic liberally on top. You can also use grated parmesan, if you prefer, or experiment with other hard cheeses. Just make sure you don’t try this with high-moisture cheeses like fresh mozzarella, as they won’t crisp up the same and will get too oily.
Once my cheesy, buttery, garlicky layer is all prepared, I place the potato wedges on top, making sure that one of the skinless sides is down, touching the cheese. Then I bake them until they’re golden and the cheese is very crisp. It’s important to let the wedges rest for 5 minutes after removing them from the oven, or the cheese will not set and it won’t adhere to the potatoes.
You’ll probably find at this point that the wedges are difficult to remove. Using a metal spatula, break apart cheese in between each wedge, and then scrape the cheesy wedges away from the pan. Once I do this, I place the wedges in a bowl, top with parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper, and serve them warm. They’re delicious on their own, but I like them even more when I dip them in warm marinara. Mmmmm.
As you can tell from the picture above, James prefers to eat his with ranch or aioli. Delicious either way.
I also made a quick how-to video, to illustrate… well.. “how-to”. Check it out. Not too shabby for my second video ever, I think. I could definitely get the hang of this!
When you give the recipe a go, don’t forget to tag #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter to show off your Parmesan and Garlic Crusted Baked Potato Wedges. You’ll make all of your fellow burnt-cheese-scraper friends jealous, for sure.
- 4 russet potatoes, cut into wedges
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ cup butter, divided into tablespoon-sized pieces
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) shredded parmesan cheese
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Marinara or dip of choice, to serve
- Place the potato wedges in a large pot, and add in the water, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt. Press down on the potatoes gently to make sure they're all submerged. Bring the pot to a gentle boil and continue to boil the potatoes for 10 minutes. Drain and pat the potatoes dry with paper towels. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Set the butter on a large baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and allow the butter to melt as the oven preheats. Once the butter has fully melted, carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven.
- Sprinkle parmesan cheese evenly on top of the baking sheet. Do the same with the garlic.
- Place the potato wedges on top of the garlic and cheese layer, so that one of the skinless sides is touching the cheese. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly golden and the cheese has browned.
- As the potatoes cook, combine the parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix. Set aside.
- Let the potatoes sit for 5 minutes. This ensures that the cheese will stick to the potatoes instead of ripping off and staying on the pan. It's very important to leave them be so they can set.
- Using a metal spatula, break apart the cheese in-between each wedge and lift the baked cheese and wedges from the baking sheet. Plate and then sprinkle with the parsley mixture.
- Serve warm with marinara, ranch, or sauce of choice for dipping.
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