Basics: Roast Potatoes

Everyone has their own way of doing roast potatoes, this is mine. I like a high ratio of fluffy to crispy and never ever use a waxy potato. Nor do I like mine coated in semolina or polenta – I really don’t like the oddly tough outer this creates. For me it has to be Maris Piper or King Edwards (same with mashed potato). I’m not saying this is the absolutely ultimate roast spud method just that this is what I do. I’ve made these using vegetable oil, olive oil and butter combined, duck fat, goose fat, lard or beef dripping. Works perfectly well with any of them. 

Pre heated oven 170c

You need one potato per person plus an extra one or two depending on how many you are catering for. Choose potatoes roughly the size of a lightly clenched fist, peel, then cut into four evenly sized pieces and rinse.

Place in a saucepan, cover with cold water, add a generous amount of salt and bring up to the boil quite slowly over a medium heat. 

As soon as the water starts to boil turn the heat right down, put a lid on the pan and cook very very gently until completely tender. This will take around 20 minutes or so. Test with a skewer or a cocktail stick but go gently because they are likely to break apart if you are heavy handed. 

Once tender drain slowly and very carefully then gently return the potatoes to the pan. Allow them to steam in the pan for a couple of minutes. You may notice the odd corner of a potato lifting up – this is good, nothing to worry about. 

Now pour over your chosen fat, about a generous tablespoon per potato then gently swirl the pan to partially coat each piece. Don’t worry about getting it evenly distributed. 

Spoon each piece of potato onto a non-stick baking sheet. There should be some fat left behind in the pan, use the spoon to trickle a little of this remaining fat over each potato. Floury potatoes are by nature a bit fragile and one or two may break apart. Worry not, just press gently back together and anoint in the same way as the others. As you get to the last dregs there will be potato crumbs making it sludgey. This is A Good Thing. Keep spooning until it has all been used up. 

Roast in the oven for about an hour turning over after 40 minutes or so. I use a palette knife and a fork to do this, easing them off the tray if they have stuck slightly. 

When written down it sounds a lot faffier than it actually is. Have faith in the fact that you don’t need a lake of oil to roast potatoes and rejoice in what this means when it comes to the washing up. 


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