Everyone has their own method for roast potato, though that stems from how you like your spuds. Me? Fluffy inside, dark and crisp outside. The science to this is that it’s surface area that collects fat – and therefore crispiness – so you want to maximise surface area. How do you do that? Think small. The potatoes need to be parboiled to the point just before they forget how to hold their shape. And the water must be salted. Once they are quite soft, drain thoroughly, and treat ’em mean. Jamie Oliver uses the phrase “chuff ’em up a bit”, and he’s quite right. Shake them in the colander or pan, get the edges bashed up, because it’s these ridges and crumbled edges that make areas for the hot fat to attack. If I have inclination and equipment to hand, I’ll boil the skin in a cloth bag in with the pots before discarding, I feel it lends an earthy tone.
An optional extra at this stage, that adds both crunchiness and sweetness, is to add a dessert spoon of dried polenta to the floury potatoes. Stir it right in, and you’ll get an extra layer of flavour to your spuds. You’ll also find they soak up an awful lot of fat.
Speaking of hot fat, whatever comes to hand will do, although if we’re talking perfection it’s goose fat for me. Your fat of choice has to be in the oven already at a hot temperature, about 225C, before the boiled potatoes hit it. Give them a good turning to ensure they’re covered with fat, then let ’em roast for 45mins+. Makes sure they get turned often and always sprinkle liberally with salt before serving. You’ll know when they’re ready; they just sound right. Like rustling a paper bag.
Aren’t they just bliss? I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love a roast potato, and I don’t think I’d want to know them anyway.