I consider roast potatoes the pinnacle of mankind’s achievements. If any kind of food deserves a recipe, it is roast potatoes. So despite the title of this blog and my ravings against the need for recipes, I unashamedly present my roast potato recipe (pictures taken during my recent adventures with roast chicken kindly supplied by Abel & Cole):
My perfect roast potato recipe includes elements I’ve unashamedly nicked from Gordon and Jamie. If you want more of their genius, I can highly recommend:
- Jamie’s very accessible “making you a better cook”
- If you’re after something more complicated, Gordon’s “recipes from a 3 star chef”
- For general reading, I enjoyed both of Gordon’s biog-style books: “humble pie” and “playing with fire”
Anyway, the recipe:
- Pick good potatoes. This is really important. Don’t go for general “white potatoes” – pick a variety. Maris Pipers are good. So are King Edwards. Experiment and you’ll find your preferences.
- Either peel ‘em or don’t. Try it both ways. You get a difference kind of roastie each way and both rock in my opinion.
- Chop them, but only into large chunks. There’s a place for tiny roast potatoes, but for now, big is easiest. I tend to chop your average size potato into 2 or 3 chunks.
- Par-boil by throwing in cold water with some salt and bringing to the boil. Don’t go much further than just bringing them to the boil.
- Drain and shake – you want to rough them up a little – either shake them in the colander or in the pan
- Fry them. This is a crucial step (you can even skip the par-boil if you are truly lazy, but don’t skip this). You want to fry them in your roasting dish (incidentally, Amazon have a sale on Le Creuset at the moment – get some while you can). The pinnacle of roast potatoes use goose fat, but if you don’t have that to hand, my preference is just to cover the bottom of the roasting dish with sunflower oil (which has different qualities at high temperature to olive oil), throw the potatoes in, shake ‘em around and then add some olive oil on top for flavour. Fry them over a high-ish hob adding salt and pepper. You aren’t trying to cook them through, but simply get a bit of colour and get them started – experiment to see how far you want to cook them. You will need to turn them carefully and often to avoid sticking.
- Throw them in the oven on a really high heat – this is often when you move the meat down so you can often keep the oven on the same temperature and shuffle things around if you’re cooking with gas
- Crucially don’t turn them from this point on. This gets you the dry crispiness you want and makes sure they are crunchy without over-cooking. Also, you don’t risk breaking them – you only have to get a spatula under them once to serve them. If they are getting a bit crispy without looking like they are cooking evenly, turn the temperature down a bit
- After about 45 minutes, when they look ready, serve them. The whole process will have taken a little over an hour to this point
If you want to be more adventurous once you’ve nailed the basics, you can experiment with throwing all kinds of things in late in the process (20-25 minutes before serving). I’ve had fun with:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Goat’s cheese
- Garlic (whole cloves)