Friday, 28 October 2011

Recipe: The Perfect Roast Potatoes


If you aren't a potato lover in my family, you might as well have three heads.  Being brought up as a true meat and two veg English girl - we know our 'spuds' and know we like lots of them.  Here is a great, simple roast potato recipe that even I have managed to stick to.  I think it started life as a Delia Smith recipe, but has been handed down on various pieces of paper, each time adding something to it in a Chinese whisper type fashion.

According to my father, it's all in the type of potato.  Use Desiree if you can, as they are perfect for all things baking when it comes to potatoes.  They make great roasts, chips and even baked potatoes.  Price wise, they are not the cheapest but certainly not the most expensive.

Ingredients:

. 250g of potato (Desiree or another 'floury' type) per person
. 20g lard/fat per person
. Salt - cut rough
. Chives or herbs to taste

Preparation time: 25 mins
Cooking time: 50 mins (if making for 4 people) add 10 minutes for each additional serving

First place the roasting tray with the fat in it on the highest shelf of the oven while it pre-heats (gas mark 7). Peel the spuds using a peeler, then cut them into fairly even-sized pieces, leaving the small ones whole. Place them in a saucepan, pour over boiling water, just to cover, then add salt and simmer for about 10 minutes. After that lift one out with a skewer/fork and see if the outer edge is fluffy. You can test this by running the point of the skewer along the surface – if it stays smooth, give it a few more minutes.

Drain off the water, reserving some for the gravy.  Shake the saucepan vigorously up and down (with the top on, obviously). This shaking roughens up the cooked edges of the potato and makes them floury and fluffy – this is the secret of the crunchy edges.

Remove the roasting tray containing the fat (which should sizzle) and transfer to the direct heat (medium) on the hob. Then use a long-handled spoon and quickly lower the potatoes into the hot fat. When they are all in, tilt the tray and baste each one so it's completely coated with fat. Place them back on the highest shelf of the oven and leave them unattended for 40-50 minutes or until they are golden brown. There's no need to turn them over at half-time – they will brown evenly by themselves. 

Sprinkle them with the salt before serving; they lose their crunch if you keep them waiting. If they're ready before you are, turn the oven off and leave them inside - open the oven door if you're worried they'll burn.

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