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Friday 25 January 2013

Ask the Sluts: What's the best way to cook roast potatoes?

Roast potatoes. There is no finer food in all the land. Seriously, nothing. (Although the chocolate whisky custard that Hazel made earlier has us rethinking our food loyalties.) The thing is, no one can decide the best way to cook them. Everyone has a different method. Even us. So how do we cook our roast potatoes?

Sian: I'm all about the cold olive oil. I boil the spuds and shake 'em about in the pan so they're all fluffy and crisp up. That bit is most important. Then whack them in the oven at 200 degrees until all of the edges are cripsy, opening the oven and stealing bits turning them every so often. That's about the same time as a Poirot on ITV. I'm not a fan of fancy seasoning, no need for beef dripping. Just a bit of peeper and rock salt.

You know what doesn't work? Running out of oil and improvising with butter. You idiot, Sian.

Hazel: You need a good floury potato like Maris Piper if you want a fluffy roastie. In order to get super crunchy outsides you do have to peel them. I parboil mine in salted water for just 5 minutes then drain and leave them to air dry in the colander for about 15 minutes before giving them a bit of a shake and a scrape with a fork to get all those nice crispy crunchy bits later. Sprinkle over some coarse ground polenta  for extra crunch then heat some Derimon smoked duck fat in a roasting tray with a big sprig of rosemary then tip the spuds in and give them all a turn to coat in the hot rosemary flavoured oil. Then I sprinkle over some powdered chicken stock, some dried garlic granules and plenty of sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Pop them in the oven (200C) until they are all lovely and crispy turning just once during the cooking process, yep fails to make me swoon when I eat them!

Caleigh: I'm a fan of potato royalty, the King Edward for my roasties. Peel them and chop the big ones up so that all the pieces are roughly the same size. Parboil in salted water for about 10 minutes then drain and leave in the colander to steam dry. Whack the oven up to 220°C and heat your roasting tin and duck or goose fat until the fat is lava-hot. Shake the potatoes in the colander to rough up the outsides and pop them (gently) into the tin. Chuck on a good pinch of sea salt and a decent grinding of pepper and roast for about 30-45 minutes, turning halfway through. I've been known to eat bowls of roast potatoes and gravy for dinner, because it truly is the food of the Gods.

Sara: I adopt Sian's method, except I halve my potatoes because we all know the smaller they are, the crispier they get. Sprinkle with pepper and rosemary, throw in the oven. Do not be ashamed of occasionally using Aunt Bessie's frozen ones if you're a bit tired and emotional and need hot carbs, stat.

Laura H: Oh my, I'm veggie but Hazel's method has me drooling. This probably won't be popular with die-hard roastie veterans, but I tend to base mine on 'papas arrugadas' or 'wrinkly potatoes'. We used to go to the Canary Islands every year when I was little, and they are obsessed with them there. Basically, you boil small potatoes with a frighteningly large amount of salt, and some of it sticks to the skins when they're drained. I follow this by parboiling new potatoes in lots of salt, then rub them with olive oil and even more coarse sea salt, roasting them until they've gone all golden and beautiful. What's best, they're small so you don't feel bad for having at least 15...

How do you cook yours?

Hazel took that photo. Hers do look pretty damn good...


  1. I pretty much use a mix of Hazel and Caleighs methods. Fat is always best, it must be really hot. Leave the spuds to steam dry for about ten mins after parboiling, then shake. I cover them with fat and sprinkle with Season All from the spice rack. I also cut mine long for more crispy surface area! Maris, Edwards or even Roosters are all good.

  2. Use any old tatties that you've got hanging around - reds are good for roasting, or King Edwards, or Maris Pipers. Par-boil them for a few minutes (or until I remember that they're in the pan and hope they've not gone soggy), drain, cool, then cover in heavily seasoned flour (lots of white pepper and a tiny bit of salt). Put in the oven, basted in goose or duck fat, and for about 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your potato. That's a recipe my dad gave me years ago, and it works a treat for fluffy in the middle, crisp outside roasties.

  3. Charlotte potatoes, as the insides get really soft and fluffy. Peel them, boil them for 10 minutes, then shake them to bash them up a bit. Then into the oven in olive oil for 30 minutes, spooning the oil over every now and then. The most important thing is to keep the oil really hot. Pre-heat it, and put the tray onto a hob on low whenever you take them out to spoon the oil over. Can't go wrong!

  4. Noooo! Not olive oil! Its smoke point is too low, and it turns into all sorts of Bad For You.
    If you really dont want animal fat, veg oil is better than olive.


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