The perfect roast potato recipe could well be regarded as a kind of a culinary holy grail. After all, since Elizabethan times, the roast potato has held a mysterious power over mankind, and over the centuries many a relationship has been made or broken dependent largely on the quality of the roasties coming out of the kitchen. This is, therefore, important stuff. Although it might appear easy at the outset, getting the perfect combination of golden-brown, crispy exterior encapsulating a light and fluffy centre can be a bit of a black art. Follow the tips below, however, and you’ll soon be cranking out amazing roasties time after time with unfailing regularity. The first, perhaps rather surprising, revelation is that in order to achieve the epitome of potato perfection, there’s no need to go down the traditional route of slathering everything with goose fat, as there is a much healthier way to do things that tastes just as good.
Pick decent spuds
The type of potato you choose to roast makes a huge difference. If you can, go for a quality, floury white potato such as the King Edward or Maris Piper, whose low moisture content and starchy consistency gives them the ideal texture for roasting. Desiree, Rooster and Estima varieties will also work well, but the more waxy types, such as Charlotte or Maris Peer, work better as salad potatoes and should therefore be avoided for roasting purposes.
Peel your potatoes, removing and discarding any black bits, extra shoots or anything that moves of its own accord. Cut the spuds into irregular-shaped chunks averaging about 3-4cm across and place them into a large pan of salted water.
Bring the water to the boil and parboil the potatoes for approximately 10-15 minutes until the outer edge softens. As well as providing the all-important crunchy exterior, this step will also ensure that the inside of the potato will cook thoroughly during the roasting process.
Whilst the parboiling is happening, turn on the oven and preheat it to 180-200 degrees Centigrade (350-400 Fahrenheit, Gas Mark 4-6), depending on whether your oven is a gentle, dependable beast, or one of those fan-assisted firebreathers that tends to unrecognisably blacken everything that enters.
Fluff ‘em up
When the parboiling period is up, drain your potatoes thoroughly in a colander over the sink, then return them to the saucepan so that the residual heat in the pan will help to dry them out. Shake them about a bit to fluff up the softened outer edges, as these are the bits that will go nice and crispy when roasted.
Oil your dish
Cover the bottom of a roasting dish with olive oil and carefully decant the potatoes into it to avoid any splashing. Spread the spuds evenly across the bottom of the dish, then, using a pair of forks or spoons, gently toss each potato in the oil until they are all completely coated.
Roast ‘em up!
Place the dish in the top of your preheated oven for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the dish from the oven and turn the potatoes in the oil again, then return to the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes.
And there you have it! Perfect, golden-brown, crispy, fluffy roasties to complement the finest of roast dinners. Just don’t underestimate their power, and be sure to use it only for good…