Okay, I confess, these aren't real skillet potatoes—the skillet was subbed in at the last minute for aesthetic purposes. Even with the skillet, these potatoes aren't much to look at. But breakfast potatoes have never scored points for good looks. In fact, when it comes to breakfast potatoes, I think appearance is often inversely proportional to taste. (Unless they look like this, in which case, awesome.)
You should assume then, from their homely presentation, that these Potatoes Girarrosto-Style, courtesy of Andrew Carmellini, were totally delicious. Carmellini's method requires that you alternate between oven and stovetop to achieve the perfect crispy results. First the potatoes, then the caramelized onions (almost in 1:1 ratio with the potatoes), then—in the skillet phase—a final flourish of garlic, rosemary, thyme and red pepper flakes, which magically infuses the whole dish. Don't ask questions. The man knows what he's doing.
Adapted from Urban Italian, by Andrew Carmellini
4 Idaho potatoes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, cut in half and sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon fresh thyme leave
sea salt and coarse-ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Prick the potatoes with a fork, place them on a baking tray, and bake them on the middle rack until a fork goes in easily, about 1 hour. Remove the potatoes from the oven and set aside. When the potatoes are cool, roughly cut them into large chunks.
Pour the olive oil into the bottom of a large roasting pan. (Pick one that’s safe to use on the stovetop too.) Scatter the onions in the pan and layer the potato chunks on top. Bake uncovered on the middle rack for about 15 minutes, turning the contents every 5 minutes, until the onions begin to soften and caramelize.
Remove the pan from the oven and cook over high heat on the stovetop for 2 minutes to caramelize the potatoes and onions, being sure to stir the contents every 30 seconds or so to avoid burning.
Return the pan to the oven and continue baking for another 5 to 10 minutes, pulling the pan out periodically to shake the potatoes around with a spoon. Bits of potato on the bottom of the pan will brown up so they look almost like hash browns. Scrape these little flavor-and-crispiness bombs off the bottom and mix them in with the rest of the potatoes. When the potatoes are finished baking, they will be golden and crispy, with lots of brown bits.
Remove the pan from the oven and return it to the stove over medium-high heat. [This is where I transferred the potatoes to a heated skillet.] Add the garlic, butter, red pepper flakes, rosemary, and thyme. Stir, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few more minutes so the flavors meld. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped parsley. Serve immediately.