We all strive to cook the perfect roast potatoes, right?  THE perfect crowd pleaser!  I’d say there are three steps to reaching your goal of perfection…who is judging you?  Yourself and a chef’s benchmark to perfection, no matter what other culinary disasters you might have had in the kitchen, there is nothing that offers a cook more content than the perfect looking roast potatoes.

Step one – temperature of the oil

Step two – size of the potato

Step three – par boiling (pre-boiling)

Well here are my quick and easy tips to achieving near perfection!  In my mind roast potatoes should be fluffy on the inside, with a golden crispy outside.  I can hear people sucking through their teeth with the mere idea of using duck fat, as most of our granny’s would have done.  Nope.  You can still achieve the same result with a little flavouring, but half the calories with modern day cooking oil!  Of course, if you wish to use duck fat, go ahead, as the taste is sheer heaven.  For the more health conscious of you out there, there is nothing wrong with substituting for cooking oils or sprays, as long as the oil is HOT.

Choosing a waxy potato with achieve the best results – such as Charlotte, Maris Piper or Jersey Royals.

The ‘par boiling’ process is very important.  Firstly you are washing away any residue starch in cold water, once you’ve peeled and cut them.  Secondly, this partial boiling helps to reduce the cooking time and prevents the middle of the potatoes being hard, while the outside is too crisp and has too much colour.  This brings me back to Step two – if the size of the potato is correct, the ratio of fluffiness inside and crispiness on the outside will be perfect.  I use the same par-boiling process when making my own chips.

  • Peel and slice the potatoes into near same size pieces (medium size potatoes cut in half and then thirds).
  • Wash them in cold water, to remove the starch.  Then in cold, lightly salted water, bring the potatoes to a boil and keep them on high heat for 5 minutes, then drain well.
  • Put a roasting tin in the oven at 190C/170C fan/Gas 5 with two tablespoons of rapeseed oil (you can use olive oil, sunflower or vegetable oil).  I have been told that sunflower and vegetable oil aren’t as healthy at high heat, so I prefer to use rapeseed or olive oil.  Add your flavourings.
  • My favourite is garlic and rosemary (just for the aroma alone).  You’ll need 3 cloves of garlic and 2-3 springs of rosemary.
  • Once the oil is nice and hot (spitting), add the par boiled potatoes and cover in oil, giving the pan a good shake – this helps to seal the skin and if the oil is not hot enough you will end up with soggy skins or skins that stick to the bottom of the roasting tin.  Add some quality salt.  Don’t use large pieces of salt as they won’t dissolve and you’ll end up biting on lumps of salt.
  • Now cook for about an hour to 1hr 10 minutes, until the potatoes have a nice golden, crispy shell.

That wasn’t hard, was it?  You’re guests will LOVE them and I guarantee they’ll be none left…not in this house!

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