Two Really Dumb Questions

DeebyApril 12, 2014

You know how at a BBQ there's a foil wrapped package on the grill and in it are chunks of potato, onion, and globs of butter? How would I do that in the oven? How long and what temp would I bake it?
Also, when I see pictures of roasted veggies I'm drooling, the ones on a cookie sheet and drizzled with olive oil. When I try it I get dried out brown asparagus and carrots.
As is obvious I'm not a good cook. But I sure would like to make simple things that taste good. I've been living on store pizza and junk a long time.

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How long are you cooking the roasted asparagus. I follow Ina Garten's method and it comes out perfect everytime.

2 pounds fresh asparagus
Good olive oil
Kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and, if they're thick, peel them. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 25 minutes, until tender but still crisp.

I find that that in my oven 25 minutes may be a bit too long so I would maybe check them at 22 minutes.

As for the foil packets I cannot help you there but hopefully someone else can.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 1:43AM
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I will never be accused of being a good cook but I do make great roasted veges.

yellow squash
red pepper,
yellow pepper

Cut into chunks, lay out on cookie sheet, add 3 Tbls. olive oil and some salt. Cook at 425 for about 30 minutes stirring about three times. They turn out awesome!


    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 1:48AM
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Not dumb questions at all!
Veg Cook ah différent times so some need to go in the oven before others or they burn. Google for some recipes to help you.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 3:06AM
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Deeby, how are you going to know if you don't ask??

It's too late to make links, so I'll give you the search terms: I Googled "onions and potatoes in foil in the oven" and found lots of recipes for what you want. They are called "pouch potatoes", "foil baked potatoes" and a few other variants.

The others have given you good instructions for roasting vegetables. Things I think are important are to make sure all the pieces are just about the same size. I'm not fanatic about that in most of my cooking, but it really helps while roasting.

I use a high sided baking sheet so they won't roll off, and line it with parchment paper to make cleaning up easier. I also think it helps keep in the moisture for some reason. I use Beyond Gourmet unbleached parchment paper which feels slicker than white baking paper, so the brand might be part of it.

I've seen the TV chefs do the drizzle thing, but I don't trust it. Those veggies need their suntan oil! I put my veg in a small mixing bowl, drizzle the oil, because you only need a little bit, add herbs or whatever (I don't like to salt them, but it shouldn't hurt), and toss them with my hands until they're evenly coated. For something like asparagus, it's the same method in a Pyrex pie plate rather than a bowl.

I mostly use convection bake at 350, but for some things I'll broil at 375-400. At a lower temperature, they cook through more, at a higher one, they crisp up more. Or something like that.

It's also important that everything be spread out evenly in one layer. If they're clumped, some will roast faster than others.

I only use the timer as a reminder to check. When they're looking all roasty good and getting brown--not just beginning brown, but have some good spots without being brown all over--I take 'em out. If they're not done enough in the middle they were on too high a heat (a quick trip through the microwave can mend this, but don't tell anybody). Generally, it's just a matter of getting 'em served before they disappear. :)

I'm guessing your biggest issue is probably believing someone else's timing. It's much better to go by looks, and even sneak a taste, while you're learning what works for you than believing someone else's oven.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 4:48AM
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You are in luck..... There are so many great recipes that use foil pouches you won't believe it!!! There are even heavy-duty foil pouches available at the store, but you can certainly make your own.

Reynolds have a HUGE selection of 30-minute recipes that may help you make pizza and junk food a thing of the past.

Hope you can find something at the link below that will interest you.


Here is a link that might be useful: Reynolds Kitchens - Foil Packet Recipes

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 5:43AM
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Very good questions.

As far as timing goes, it is difficult to tell. Too many variables. It depends on your texture preference, you oven, and how big the food is.

That said, I would not wrap food in foil too tightly. The aluminum foil conducts heat too fast, and you end up burning the food before it's done.

On roasting veggies, you can get perfect results by first steaming the veggies partially. You can even time to have different veggies done roasting at the same time.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 7:53AM
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When I first started cooking, I would often overcook or under cook when I followed a recipe to a "t". My cooking became much better when I started trusting my sense of smell. Touch/texture is important too.

Ovens and grills and stoves all have quirks. The medium setting on your stove might be the same as the high on another. When your food starts to smell good, it's nearly done. Then you can stick a fork or a knife in a small sample to check if the food is the texture that you like.

Good luck with your cooking.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 8:15AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Below is a link to an earlier thread on roasting veggies...I concluded that you can roast veggies anywhere from 325 to 450 for 10 minutes to an hour....depending.

I find I do better with putting all my veggies in a large bowl and then drizzling with oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, and some other herbs I want, then using my hands to coat them thoroughly. I place them on parchment on edged cookie sheets. If you're roasting at a high temp, then a higher smoking point oil is preferred...

Then it's a matter of trial and error and watching and time they came out great after only 10 minutes, another time they weren't done after 20....I think it had to do with how dense the veggies were on the cookie sheet. One time, the brussel sprouts actually came out ashen! It also matters how big you cut them. For broccoli and cauliflower, you are trying to have equal stem diameters, not necessarily equal florets...

Also, some browning is perfectly acceptable.

It really is as deee says...learning what "looks/tastes/smells/feels right"....that comes with experience.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oven roasting veggies

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 8:34AM
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I really appreciate all your replies. OK, chunks of Russetts, onion, and a thick piece of carrot are in the foil packet with a glob of butter, freshly ground pepper and salt. And now we wait...

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 10:09PM
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It's been over an hour. I'm gonna nuke 'em.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 10:57PM
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Don't give up. Try again and we'll walk you through it. I've been doing this for years and just again on Saturday on the grill.
Did you start your oven, pre-heat? Even before you start prepping, turn that oven on to 350-375. Your oven may be running low. And/or slow heating up.
I would not normally roast a foil packet in the oven unless i've got something else in there like a couple chickens, a roast, stew, etc. Uses way too much energy to fully cook if densely packed. Some ovens take forever to come up to temp. That equals a much longer cooking time.
It is always the first time, the first successful time, that the bell in the head goes off and it all makes sense. Making a good sheet of roasted veggies will get you familiar with your oven.
I want you to succeed!

As mentioned, all veggies have different cooking time needs.

I'm making stock this morning and have maple evaporating, started some bread, and will be making a pan of roasted veg tonight...i'll photo the steps. (a multi-task cooking day for me).
Don't give up!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 6:28AM
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Thanks. They were OK, but no different than boiled and steamed dry. Rats.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 1:27PM
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I do sliced potatoes with diced onion in foil on the grill every summer. You can do the same thing in the oven at about 350 for 30-40 minutes. Slice the potatoes no more than 1/4" thick. Dice your onions. Layer on a large sheet of heavy foil with plenty of room to fold the sides tight. Salt and pepper each layer. Dot with butter and olive oil. Or use margarine. This is the ONLY thing I use margarine for. Don't jut use butter. You need a little olive oil to keep the butter from burning. Now take another sheet of foil the same size and put it on top of the potatoes. Fold the edges together tightly all around. You want a pillow effect. Put them on the hot grill. When the foil puffs up, turn the pack over. Carefully! You don't want a hole. You are sort of steaming the potatoes. Keep turning them over after they puff up. If they puff up right away you can wait a few minutes before you turn them again. If you do them in the oven be sure to put a cookie sheet under it.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 7:44PM
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Thank you all. I cut the potatoes in chunks, which was probably why they took so long. I have to admit that they tasted pretty much like steamed dry boiled potatoes. My scalloped potatoes are much better. I'll just go back to those.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 10:11PM
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Giving up already?
Anytime you foil something tight it will steam, like a boil.
On a grill it will roast where it contacts high heat.

I re-read your original post and you want good roasted veggies? Not just potatoes and pizza and junk?

Gotta open up and use basic food science. A tight foil packet will steam food. Often done intentionally.

No need to ever use foil in an oven. We have lidded oven-safe dutch ovens for that. Lid on to braise/steam, lid off to roast and top brown/toast the last few cooking minutes. (i do wrap ribs and such with foil on occasion for a braise).
Foil bag cooking is designed by the foil manufacturers to sell more foil.

Roasting veggies is quite simple starting with those that need longer cooking, then adding those that require shorter cooking. On a sheet pan lined with parchment.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 1:46AM
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Okay, so you were trying to replicate the grilled foil pouch potatoes. Sleevendog is right. If you read through the recipes, they even say that you're steaming them. What happens on a grill sometimes, though, is that they're often cooked very hot and very long, and not so tightly closed, so that after awhile some of the steam escapes and they start getting a bit roasty at the end. I don't know if that's happened with some good ones you've eaten, or if this was something you saw on TV, or what.

But you've said "dry" a couple of times. Do you mean dry as in not buttery? That's just a matter of using more butter. There are an awful lot of things that taste good because they're absolutely drenched in butter. You can't get the same thing any other way. They're on that list of no one oughta ever eat this, but if you're going to make them, you have to go the whole way, or you're not going to get the right result. You might be able to replace some of the butter with oil, but it won't be as buttery. Oil the foil, but butter the potatoes. :)

If you roast potato wedges with oil, as a flat on the baking tray veg, like was discussed above, do cut them pretty small. No larger than a large cherry tomato, and cook them for a long time. Let them get kind of sunken and wrinkly, but not dark all over. A few dark spots is good. That's when they're all kind of hot and gooey on the inside, and roast firm on the outside. It doesn't take a lot of oil. Just enough to completely coat them. And they're like eating the best French fries you never had. Even better is if you can get the PeeWee potatoes that are the size of smaller cherry tomatoes. :) Then you have crispy skin all the way around, and they come in such fun colors!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:13AM
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I meant steamed dry as opposed to taking boiled potatoes right out of the pot. So that they're floury. I like floury potatoes.
Boiled, buttered, salted and parsley'd. Delish !

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:26PM
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Oh. I've never experienced floury boiled potatoes. :)

From your description of the technique, however, I can see how the two methods might produce very similar results.

So, what do you do with the boiled potatoes? How long do you boil them? How do you steam them dry?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:39PM
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I boil them until they're fork tender. I pour off the water into the sink and set the pan back on the burner which I've turned off. Then sizzle until the water's gone and the potatoes look dry.
Then I dump them into a bowl, put butter on them, sea salt, and devour...
Sometimes I put chopped green onions on top. Or a sprinkle of the Parmesan in the green can. One of these days I'm going to buy and grate real Parmesan. I've never tasted it.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 10:41PM
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Oh, you have to try real Parm! If you want to use it as a sprinkle like the green box, you can let it air out until it gets hard and the tan color that's near the rind all over, then use the sticky out pointy little side of the box grater to make it as powdery as you can. You can also use a cheese plane when it's fresh and yellow to make shavings, or just grate it in strings. You can sometimes get a package of ends if the store is grating their own. You can put a whole one in soup to give it flavor and body, or use a grabber and grate it. You can also pare off slivers.

But if you just want a taste, look in your neighborhood news for an Italian festival where they have food. :) An old time Italian treat is a slice of crusty bread with butter, and parmesan (grated to powder) sprinkled thickly on top.

Thank you for the info on the potatoes. I'm not a big starch eater, so I'm always looking for ways to add them to dinners for company. Your boiling method sounds especially good for when the ovens are all full.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 1:25AM
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I cant believe I got a compliment on my cooking ! Thanks ! Yes, I'm going to get some real Parmesan. Its actually on my Bucket List. LOL.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 7:16PM
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Oh yes, definitely get real Parmesan, it's actually available already grated in some stores. I usually just buy a wedge, it lasts a long time for cooking.

Your post about the boiled potatoes made me smile. When I was a kid, we ate a LOT of potatoes, sometimes at all three meals. Grandma would boil a huge pot of potatoes and we'd have them for supper with butter, salt and pepper. Leftovers went into the refrigerator and were used the next day for American fries for breakfast or lunch, or mashed up and used as topping for Shepherd's Pie. A snack was often a cold boiled potato out of the refrigerator, sprinkled with salt, we could just grab one and eat it without utensils, on our way back outside to play.

I don't think I've ever met a potato that I didn't like, but wrapped in foil isn't my favorite. My favorite is sliced about 1/2 inch thick, roasted on each side at about 400F until brown (you have to flip them once). I like them just like that, but the kids like me to sprinkle each slice with whatever cheese I have on hand, grated, and a sprinkle of crumbled bacon. Back into the oven until the cheese melts. Add some sour cream and it's like potato skins, but with more potato and less skin.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 11:04PM
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We love potatoes too, and I always boil enough for leftovers.

Leftover mashed are excellent mixed with sour cream and shredded cheese, some minced onions and popped in the oven. They're like twice-baked, but a heck of a lot easier and less messy.

Like you, I love the onions, carrots, parsnips and onions in foil on the barbecue. Indoors, we love roasted veggies.
Potatoes, carrots and onions, brussels sprouts, asparagus, parsnips, sweet potatoes. Fennel as well, when I buy it. You can roast anything.

I've never roasted sliced eggplant, and everytime I see someone do it on tv, I want to try it. I'm assuming we'll like eggplant! :-)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 7:48AM
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When I'm peeling potatoes I like to eat a raw slice with a sprinkle of salt. My favorite thing to do with leftover mashed potatoes is to fry up potato pancakes.
I cannot make good fried potatoes to save my life. My Mom could-my favorite childhood suppers were when she'd fry potatoes. Either sliced boiled or raw fried, they were tender crisp. I either get greasy gray clods from boiled or hard on the inside raw fried. I gave up years ago. She fried hers in Crisco. Maybe that was why they were so good?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 3:51PM
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Jasdip, eggplant is wonderful!! Especially roasted. But most Americans way undercook it. It's done when it looks like snot. Literally. If it's white, it's not cooked and likely bitter. People tell you you have to salt it to draw away the bitter but I can't tell the difference. It's sweet if it's cooked, and bitter and nasty if it isn't.

If you don't want to go to the mess of charring it over a fire, you can do it under the broiler. Just wash the whole eggplant, poke it all over with a fork to break the skin and let the steam out (you do not want an exploding eggplant), and put it in a pie plate, under the broiler, until it's all sunken in and charry looking. Turn it at least once (more if there's another side that hasn't been up--depends on size and shape). You can use a casserole dish if you don't have a pie plate (I use Pyrex which is dead easy to clean), but the lower the sides the less you have to turn it. Temperature can be from 375-450 depending on your druthers, but I wouldn't go higher with a big eggplant because the outside will get totally charred before the inside is cooked. You can if they're the skinny ones, but then you have to watch them like a hawk. It could take 45-90 minutes depending on the oven, temperature, and size of eggplant.

Once it's done, let it cool enough to touch, then slice open, use a spoon to pull out the heaviest groups of seeds, then just scoop the eggplant out, getting all the roasty brown parts. You can make it into a salad or paste, add tehinah for baba ganouj, or just use it straight.

The fire version takes a lot more tending, but gives a smokier flavor, even when it's just your gas burner. Poke all over, and keep turning every couple of minutes before the charred spots go black. As you turn the eggplant, the hot side will cool down and can take another go over the flames. This will result in eggplant spit all over your burner, so not the thing to do right after a big, deep clean.

You can also do very skinny Asian eggplants, cut into spears, oiled and seasoned (a citrusy flavor works very well, and garlic, for sure), and roast them like you would any other veg. It's a little tricky getting them good and cooked without drying out though. I use a higher sided baking dish for them. Sometimes, a dry, white outside remains when it's thoroughly cooked inside. They're best when the whole white collapses against the skin, looking flat and overdone. That's when they're just right.

Can you tell I love eggplant?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 5:23PM
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Your method of steaming the potatoes after you boil them is exactly how my Sicilian grandmother and mother taught me to make our potato salad.

I attached a recipe that is very similar to the way we make potato salad, except leave about an inch of water when draining the potatoes, put back on the burner and reduce by half (only takes a minute or so), add the ingredients and stir a little bit to make it slightly "smashed." Also, this recipe calls for white wine vinegar, but you can use red wine, and I've also used apple cider vinegar in a pinch. I just drizzle the vinegar and olive oil to taste. I grow the parsley in the summer, and it's a healthy (no butter or mayo) and fresh tasting salad. We serve it at room temp.

There are plenty of variations on the web, like adding crispy pancetta and using flavored olive oils. One of my favorite variations is omitting the vinegar, and adding fresh baby spinach and grated romano pecorino or shredded asiago. Remember that you can freeze these hard Italian cheeses if you don't use them up. I use these cheeses in a lot of my cooking (like mixing with panko bread crumbs for breading chops and chicken) and have some in my freezer at all times.

Hopefully you'll enjoy this variation of your "dry" potatoes!

As the other posters have said, there are no dumb questions! Even the world's best chef's learn something new all the time!

Here is a link that might be useful: Italian Potato Salad

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 12:38AM
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Deeby, FWIW I think the secret to good fried potatoes is a good heavy skillet (not a non-stick), plenty of butter, salt and pepper, diced onion if you like and cook on medium-they can't be hurried and they do take a while, especially if using raw potatoes.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 9:31PM
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