The Polarizing Ingredient You Should Be Using For Roast Potatoes

The food world is full of unusual, eyebrow-raising, and downright weird methods, ingredient substitutions, and flavor combinations. But everything is usually done in the name of better flavor, so we look past the madness and just let folks enjoy their meal. For example, dipping french fries into a Wendy's Frosty sounds atrocious, yet the practice has developed a strong cult following. Similarly, much of the world looks at America's habit of eating ranch dressing on pizza as appalling. But what can we say? It's a thing. 

While many of these odd combinations were no doubt accidental or experimental, there are no better judges of what flavors complement each other and what ingredients react best to one another than professional chefs. Their knowledge goes way beyond food; their jobs require savviness in food science and painstaking practical research. By developing these skills in their kitchens, they come up with some pretty impressive tricks and tips to make their jobs easier and their customer's dishes better. And, yes, it often involves things that many would call "strange." But these are often the reasons food in restaurants tastes better than what's prepared in home kitchens. From making Goldfish cracker ice cream cones to freezing cheese for easier grating, you can always expect the unexpected from those who have careers in the kitchen. So, don't be surprised if you soon start seeing TikTok videos showcasing cooking potatoes with an ingredient that people either really love or love to hate.  

Marmite: Not just for breakfast

The U.K. has some foods and ingredients that leave others scratching their heads, and the feeling is generally mutual. Beans on toast, Chip Butty's (those are french fry sandwiches), and Marmite are just a few examples. If you don't know, Marmite is a vegetarian yeast extract mainly used as a spread for things like toast and sandwiches, and it's particularly popular in Britain. The flavor is strong and salty with a super-umami profile. British chef Simon Shaw uses the flavor enhancer in his roast potatoes. First, he parboils the potatoes in water and some Marmite, a method which Shaw says "gives them a really nice colour [sic] and will present you with deep-golden roasties every time." 

Shaw isn't the only one utilizing such an ingredient in the roasted tubers. Good Housekeeping adds a touch of the controversial condiment to potatoes right as they go into the oven for the same effect: browning and flavor. It's worth trying both methods to see which one you prefer. Getting your hands on a jar of Marmite can be tricky as it isn't nearly as popular in America as it is across the pond, but plenty of companies sell it online. And, who knows? The next time you get perfectly browned, roasted, gorgeous-looking potatoes at a restaurant, they may have had a dip in Marmite water too.