Cooking Roast Potatoes
There is much disagreement over the best way of cooking roast potatoes. My favourite method is the one that Jane Grigson recommended in her Vegetable Book:
1. Clean the potatoes and boil in salted water for five minutes. This won’t cook the potatoes, but will soften them.
2. Peel off the skins and, if necessary, cut into suitably-sized pieces.
3. Rough up the surfaces with a fork – this will help the potatoes crisp up when roasted.
4. Heat some lard (or goose fat if available) in a shallow roasting pan so that it melts to give a 1cm (1/2 inch) depth.
5. Turn the potatoes in the lard to ensure that all sides are covered.
6. Roast on the top shelf of the oven (above the meat) for the last 45-50 minutes of the meat’s cooking time. The ideal cooking temperature is 190-200°C (Gas mark 5 to 6) which is slightly higher than the typical meat roasting temperature. For non fan-assisted ovens this problem is overcome because the oven will be hotter at the top.
You can roast most varieties of potato with good results. However, Maris Piper, King Edward, and Desiree are particularly suitable varieties which are widely available.
- You can use vegetable oil or olive oil instead of lard or goose fat. In my opinion, the results aren’t quite as good, but I have to concede that it’s probably healthier.
- A halogen oven can be useful when cooking roast potatoes as part of a roast dinner. This is because the cooking temperature for roast potatoes is slightly higher than the typical roasting temperature for meats. This can be overcome by roasting the meat in a conventional oven whilst roasting the potatoes in the halogen oven.