Let us take a moment to appreciate the simple beauty of crispy cheese. You know what I’m talking about, like those delectable toasty bits you find on the edge of a grilled cheese sandwich. We could probably all use a little more of its savory crunch right now. This may be why the food internet is presently in love with crispy Parmesan crust on the face of roasted potatoes. And, it’s not wrong. The combo is affordable, easy to make and pretty perfect for a snack or side.
When I make these potatoes, I like them so crispy the cheese is almost burnt with creamy well-done insides, which is why I cook them at 425 degrees. They come off the pan with a cheese crust so hard it reflects light and makes an audible crunch when you bite into it. If you wanted to go easier on the crispiness and burned cheese flavor, you could dial the heat back to 400 degrees. I use garlic powder because I find fresh garlic burns a bit, but you could sub in a couple cloves of real garlic if you prefer. I often use fresh store-bought Parmesan or Romano shreds because it’s easy and it gives a more substantial crust than Parm done on my microplaner. But, if you’re wanting a lighter cheese effect, microplane away. I like to use fresh thyme when I can find it and I sometimes throw in some lemon zest. You could sub in other herbs, depending on your preference, or switch the regular salt for seasoned. I would not use canned Parm for this recipe.
I think these potatoes are good on their own, but my kids like to dunk them in ranch or sour cream. Sometimes, I also mix Greek yogurt with a little harissa for a dip. Main thing is to keep an eye on them toward the end of the cooking time so they don’t brown beyond your preference. Don’t forget to reduce the time if you’re using really small potatoes. And don’t be shy with the salt.
Roasted toasty Parmesan potatoes
Serves 4 as a generous side
1 1/2 pounds small — in the neighborhood of a golf ball — Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced in half longways to give them the most surface area
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 loose cup fresh grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
Sour cream to serve
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Pour oil on a medium sheet pan and spread it to cover roughly a 13-by-9-inch area. Sprinkle the oiled area generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle it with garlic powder. Cover evenly with a layer of Parmesan. Sprinkle with fresh thyme. Lay the potatoes on the cheese zone, cut side down. They shouldn’t overlap or touch. Bake undisturbed for 25 minutes, or until the round tops of the potatoes are soft when pressed and the cheese between them is golden brown. Remove from the oven and lift off the pan with a metal spatula. Break apart the potatoes that are stuck together in a serving dish and sprinkle with any cheese bits remaining on the pan. Serve with sour cream, if desired.