The Perfect Roast Potatoes

The perfect accompaniment to any stodgy British dish.

It starts with the type of potato: the russet or baking potato.

Meet one of the rhythm section of the food world.

Say your lead goes on a bender hours before showtime. Things are grim; the show is in doubt. Trust an effective rhythm section to pull it off. They’ll dazzle with improvised riffs, solid technique, maybe even a solo or two. All to distract from the supposed star flubbing the tunes. The show must go on.

It’s not glamorous, it doesn’t get any of the glory.

What would a burger be without fries, turkey without mashed, roast beast without roast potatoes?

It’d be like a band with a one-armed drummer. Oh wait…

Next it's parboiling them to get them to fluff at the edges.

So the perfect roast potato: crispy and golden on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. Two methods are employed: boiling and baking.

There are a few things that contribute to the perfect roast potatoes: 1) the potato – choose a baking potato, or Russet, they fluff up the best; Red potatoes don’t fluff that well. Yellow ones are better. Yukon Gold is another good candidate. 2) the parboil – you know how you boil the shit out of potatoes for mashed potatoes? You don’t do that here. Just boil them for a little bit so they’re partially cooked. The trick is to get them to fluff after you take them out of the water (see picture). Those fluffy bits are what make the crispy outside when they hit the oven. Shoot for 10 minutes of boiling in salted water.

And third: the fat – I choose duck fat as my roast potato fat source. Seriously, get your hands on some and try it, you won’t be disappointed. You can get some if you buy a duck for duck breasts in red wine sauce. Olive oil and butter work okay, as well. Combine them if you can. I once had to use only olive oil once due to diet restrictions. I thought they were lacklustre, but everyone else raved about them. So what do I know?

Look at those crispy bits!

Serves 4

  • 4 medium baking potatoes, peeled and halved
  • Salt
  • 1 cup duck fat
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 2 stalks rosemary

Heat your oven to 375F. Place your roasting pan with the duck fat in the heating oven. You want the fat good and hot when the potatoes hit the pan.

Place your potatoes in a pot. Fill with cold water. Put it on the stove and bring to a boil. Add the salt to the water. Let boil for approximately 10 minutes.

Drain in a colander. Allow 30 – 60 seconds to steam dry. Then toss in the colander to get the potatoes to fluff up (see picture). It could take a couple tosses, it could take more. Be patient.

Take your roasting tray out of the oven. Put in the garlic and rosemary. The fat should become fragrant quickly. Carefully add the potatoes. Carefully, still, with a flipper toss them in the fat to coat them. Place back in the oven for 1 hour, turning the potatoes twice in the hour to get a nice overall crisp.

Serve with roast beef, roast chicken, roast duck or roast lamb.

Jason Kemp is a geek trapped in a cool guy's body. He hand crafts software for the web and mobile devices. He excels at user interface design, the deadlift and barbecue. He is @ageektrapped across the internet.

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