Friday, 16 December 2011

Roast potatoes: How do you do yours?

Let's start with the facts: No one will make roast potatoes better than our mums.

But we can try. The problem is that everyone argues about the best way to do them. How to get them crispy on the inside, and all fluffy in the middle. If the Domestic Sluts had to tackle Christmas dinner together, you can bet there would be drunken fisticuffs about the spuds. We'd all have different ways of doing them and we all think we're right. Because that's how our mums did them. We learnt from the best.

My mum is (as all mums are) a roast potato queen. She's magic in the kitchen anyway, but I would walk back to Wales in the snow for her roasties at Christmas. She par-boils and then waits until the oil is very hot before putting them in the oven for an hour. And then magic happens. I've never had roast potatoes better than hers. Not once. It's witchcraft. Crispy, fluffy witchcraft.

So firstly it's skins off. Don't you dare tell me you have roasties with skins on, I just won't ever come 'round for tea. I par-boil for about 8 minutes, shake about in the pan and add to hot oil with sea salt and cracked black pepper. And they're usually pretty good. They're getting better each time I make them, but then sometimes they're pretty average and then I get grumpy.

I've gone all out and bought duck fat for my next batch (so excited - this must be the happiest way to go up a dress size). Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall uses groundnut oil, which sounds strange and I'm not sure I want them to taste of groundnut. He prefers a King Edward, whereas Delia is all about the Desiree. It's a massive potato minefield. Heston is all about the olive oil, and I've tried that - they just don't get crispy enough for me. Nigel favours my way. I love Nigel and his gentle voice.

I'm certain there's no right answer.

So it's over to you guys. Tell us how you make your roast potatoes! We're never, ever going to agree. You'll all have different tips and tricks and I want to know what they are. One day, just one day, we might all able to make roasties that taste as good as the ones our mum makes.

Flickr image from artwork_rebel.

14 comments:

  1. I tried making mine Heston's way the other day and ended up with potato mush. I think I boiled them too long. Probably the wrong sort of potatoes.
    Usually I bring them to the boil, then turn off almost immediately. Then into hot olive oil or dripping from the last roast if I've got any. 200C for about an hour and they're beautifully crispy.

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  2. Firstly - I do roast baby potatoes, with their skins on, with salt, pepper and rosemary. And they're lush!

    BUT - that's not for a proper roast dinner. For a proper roast dinner, I steam the peeled potatoes for a 10 mins or so, then shake them about so they fluff up, then pop them in with hot vegetable oil (flavourless and can handle the heat...), salt, pepper and you're away. Check on them every 15 mins or so but resist the urge to shake about too often. Simple and effective. I do still get variable results though, some potatoes are just nicer than other...

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  3. Oh yes, mini roasties for when you can't really be bothered but when you quite fancy them get the thumbs up. But you're right - they're not for a proper roast dinner.

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  4. Par boil mine first, then add them to hot olive oil (the sort that says it's good for roasting on the bottle as it has a higher heating point). Throw in some thyme and rosemary, maybe some garlic or a sliced onion, then stare at them through the oven door until they're nice and crispy :o)

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  5. (Oh, forgot to say I give them a good shake after boiling to loosen the edges for extra crispiness!)

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  6. I make sure I put a generous pinch of salt in when I par-boil them (helps to break down the edges for extra crispiness). Let them steam dry for a good 5 minutes after par-boiling, shake them a bit to roughen and plop them into piping hot duck fat to roast.

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  7. Always, always duck or goose fat. And/or lard. I'm all about the fat.

    Par boil until just soft, rough up in the colandar when draining then in to the pre-heated fat for at least an hour.

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  8. I think these might actually be better than Mum’s.

    Potato – I spent a long time trying King Edward’s and Desiree, but I’ve come to the conclusion the Maris Piper is popular for a reason. Parboil for 8 mins with the skin off.

    From Heston – put the potato peelings in with potatoes when you parboil for added flavour.
    (He suggests putting the peelings in a muslin bag).

    If they’ve not gone too soft, bash them around a bit to make them fluffy on the edges. If you want them extra crunchy coat in semolina.

    Oil/Fat – I’ve tried olive and vegetable oils, and they’re OK. This year’s big discovery was the Iberico Pork Fat, stocked by Waitrose. Doesn’t seem as greasy as goose fat, while adding a depth of flavour (saltier than normal lard).

    Extras – throw some garlic gloves in at the start of roasting, then squeeze out the roast garlic over the roasties for the last 20 minutes, along with fresh rosemary.

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  9. I recently started using Heston's method...LOVELY, best ever roasties

    Use Maris Piper - 5 minutes under running water, then boil until soft, hot hot hot oil, at least an hour in oven, turning every 20 minutes or so. I use Olive oil as am vegie :)

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  10. Can I contribute to this? In light of my position I should probably say soak them in vodka but I think any use of alcohol in this situation is going to be optimistic. I tend to go for the par boil (with lots of salt) for 10 minutes at least (depends on the batch you have). Drain then brutally shake them to within an inch of their life. More salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and scatter some cous cous in as well. Then remember to put them in the oven for a little bit longer than you think they need. Nobody likes a soggy roast potato. Incidentally the pain I go through not to put an 'e' at the end of potato causes me to contort.

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  11. I par boil mine with plenty of salt. Heat oil in a roasting pan with some chunkily chopped onion and some crushed cloves of garlic. Then I shake the potatoes to roughen the edges and add a spoonful of flour and some polenta to coat them. Into the oil and hey presto - fluffy on the inside, deliciously crunchy on the outside!

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  12. As my Mam just rolls a bunch of (unpeeled) raw potatoes in cold olive oil and then sticks them in the oven... I par-boil mine for 10 minutes, peeled, then put them in the tray with melted bubbling duck fat. And don't tell my mother! (Or my vegetarian sister-in-law. It was a mistake, honest, I didn't mean to, but after she'd eaten about 8 of them, I didn't have the heart to confess!)

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  13. I know I can't really call them roast tatties, but I peel and boil my tatties until they are nearly fully cooked. I then fry them in hot (good quality) butter until the tatties are almost a dark golden brown colour and extra crispy, then add a tablespoon of cumin seeds and a teaspoon of fennel seeds for the last couple of minutes. This is a cheats way, as you get delicious crispy tatties in around 25mins, and is a perfect way to do them if you are short on time or oven space!

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  14. I don't think its the way you cook them but the potato that you use. I tried doing them with Kestrel potatoes and they did not have the flavour when roasted. These are the ones to try: Wilja, Maris Peer, King Edward and Nicola.

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