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Spuds You Like


Is there any sound finer than the one that ricochets around the inside of your head when you bite into a perfectly crisp roast potato? And conversely, is there anything more depressing than being served up a flaccid, oily apology for a roastie? But despite what you might read to the contrary the perfect roast potato is not the result of any kitchen trickery or insider knowledge. It’s 2 ingredients – the right choice of potato and oil or fat. How you marry those two ingredients is crucial to the quality of the end product but tricky, it ain’t.

First of all, lets deal with the thorny question of which potato variety makes the best roastie. I always use Maris Piper or King Edward because they are equally floury and thats the quality you need for a crunchy exterior and fluffy interior. There are other varieties out there but these to are the most widely available.

I allow 1 1/2 potatoes the size of a small fist per person. This gives you a generous quantity with guaranteed left overs or seconds. Peel the spuds and cut them in half. If the halves look a bit too big just trim a bit off and discard. Place the cut spuds into a large pan of cold water with a tablespoon of salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer cook for 5 minutes. Gently drain into a colander and shake gently until the edges of the potatoes are slightly roughed up. Place on a tray and allow to cool completely. The potatoes can be chilled in the fridge like this for 24 hours if necessary.

Heat the oven to 220 ┬║C / Gas 7 / 425 F and put approximately 2 cm ┬ávegetable oil or duck fat (for the tastiest roast potatoes duck fat rules) in a solid bottomed baking tray. The tray should be solid enough that it doesn’t buckle in the oven. A Pyrex dish can be used for smaller quantities. Place the tray in the oven and allow to heat for 10 minutes or until the oil or fat is smokingly hot. With great care and oven gloved hands remove the tray and gently introduce the cold potatoes to the hot fat. The safest way to coat the potatoes evenly in the oil is to turn them one by one with long handled tongs. This will lessen the chances of splashing yourself in hot fat, something guaranteed to happen if you try the same thing with a spoon.

Cook for 45 minutes to an hour turning the potatoes just once half way through the cooking time. Do not fiddle with them or attempt to baste them unnecessarily. When done, lift them from the tray with a slotted spoon and place briefly on kitchen paper to soak up any unwanted oil or fat. Place in a warmed serving dish and serve.

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