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The Secret Ingredient Ina Garten Swears By For Roasted Potatoes

ina garten in brown shirt
ina garten in brown shirt - Andy Kropa/Getty Images

As one of America's most beloved chefs and food personalities, Ina Garten knows the way to your heart — and it's almost always through your stomach. She manages to whip up some of the most comforting classic dishes in a way that is universal and familiar, yet exciting. And what's more comforting and classic than roasted potatoes? There may be a few detractors out there, but it's pretty hard for most diners to argue that the combination of a crisp outside and fluffy interior — at once salty and naturally sweet — isn't one of the most satisfying dishes in the food world.

But as perfect as they may be as is, leave it to Garten to elevate this iconic dish with a single ingredient. In a recipe shared in her 2012 cookbook, "Barefoot Contessa Foolproof," Garten revealed she adds pancetta. The combination of this salty cured pork with the starchy carbohydrates, which become caramelized thanks to the trusty culinary phenomenon known as the Maillard reaction, creates an ideal balance that keeps you coming back bite after bite.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

Ina Garten's Inspiration And Process

Roasted slices of potato with pancetta
Roasted slices of potato with pancetta - AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock

Garten's decision to use pancetta with her potatoes is based on that perfectly balanced philosophy. It's also inspired by a classic English preparation. With a par-boiled potato, Garten performs a technique to give her spuds a rougher exterior (by draining and then tossing them into the pot while covered). Meanwhile, to get the pancetta prepped and ready, she roasts the pork in the oven for five minutes prior to adding the potatoes. By doing this, some of that flavorful fat renders out of the meat, which will then be soaked up by those craggy tubers.


If pancetta had to name a close cousin, it'd be classic bacon as both of these are made from pork belly, which is then cured in subtly different ways. So if you can't get your hands on a portion of this particular cured pork, you can always substitute a thick-cut bacon to pair with your potatoes (and you can even apply one quick boiling tip to your bacon to make the swap).

More Ways To Enjoy Your Roasted Pancetta Potatoes

Pancetta, raw, in a bowl
Pancetta, raw, in a bowl - Photo-lime/Getty Images

Given the simplicity of the roasted potato, it may not seem like there's a whole lot more you can do to elevate these spuds, but there is a simple trick for getting the crispiest version possible. All you have to do is par-boil before baking, and you'll have a prime batch of potatoes that will perfectly complement your pancetta.

And beyond pancetta, there are some other ingredients that will seriously upgrade your roasted potatoes. A spicy-citrusy flavor profile may seem surprising, but adding chili and lime is inarguably delicious. And in a similar vein, a simple squeeze of lemon along with your favorite dried herbs will elevate your tubers. Bonus points for roasting garlic right along with your potatoes and pancetta, or even some romano cheese. You can take your dish in so many directions, and feel confident that you'll do Garten's secret ingredient potatoes proud.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.