Sorry for the gap in posts – I’ve been quite busy with life, and haven’t done any recipes that were worth sharing/I haven’t already shared.
I’m deciding to start a new ‘Tips’ series, where I share a few tips and tricks I’ve learnt along my cooking journey that make things easier, quicker, and/or tastier!
So, I’ll go ahead and list a few things that I always try to incorporate into making my roast potatoes, which make them so beautifully golden and crunchy, yet soft and fluffy on the inside. I don’t mean to brag, but I make a mean roastie (having paid the price, of course! I’ve made many, many mistakes along the way, and have learned what to avoid).
- Time – this is my number one priority if you want a beautifully crisp roast potato. If you’re going for a roast potato, you really can’t scrimp on time and expect them to turn out perfectly. I leave mine in a fan oven for at least an hour, an hour and a half is preferable, turning them so they don’t burn on one side. Sometimes I even leave them in for two hours (if they’re at a lower temperature like 170-180C). If you’re short on time, try cutting your potatoes up smaller.
- Seasoning – it’s important to salt your potatoes. This not only adds seasoning, but draws out additional moisture and helps to crisp up the outsides. For an extra bit of oomph, I love to crumble a stock cube into melted butter (veg oil will do too if I’m not feeling so luxurious) and add that to the oil/fat that I’m using. If you do that, be careful not to over-salt the potatoes as the stock cube will already have salt and seasoning in it.
- Temperature – I don’t know if this is just me, but I love to whack up the heat when I do my roasties; it gives them that gorgeous golden outside but softer inside, with plenty of those delicious burnt-y bits too. (That’s just the way I like my roast potatoes, if you like yours a little paler cook them at a lower heat.) I roast mine at a minimum of 190C in a fan oven, but can range anywhere up to 220C – it depends on how much time I have, the size of the potatoes, and my mood (if I’m feeling lazy, I’ll set it at a lower temp as I won’t have to turn them as often).
- Hot oil – if you can, heat your oil or fat in your tray before you add in your potatoes, to extra really hot. You want to hear that sizzle when you tip in your spudsies (take care of hot splashing oil!). If doing the stock cube technique, tip that mixture in beforehand too – when it’s rapidly bubbling in the oil/fat, it’s time to add the potatoes.
- Space – arguably the most, definitely one of the most important factors! Give your potatoes space on the tray. No over-lapping or multiple layers … a single layer of potatoes on a tray, preferably with space between each potato too. This really helps them to crisp up and get all their sides exposed to the heat. Definitely DO NOT pile them on top of each other, this will trap the steam between them as they cook, making them much too wet, and turn them into mashed potato as you try to turn them on the tray (believe me, I’ve made this mistake many a time).
- Par-boiling – I rarely do this technique, unless I’m in the mood to make the extra effort, if I’m short on time, or want extra crispy bits that flake off, because I’ve found that the potatoes go very fluffy and a crumbly with this technique. And wet, too. NB: it is VERY important to let your potatoes dry off after they are wet, be it patting them dry with a tea towel, or letting them steam dry for 5+ minutes (this is my preferred method). Sometimes it’s a nightmare if I over par-boil, and they just fall apart on me and turn to mush in the pan. To properly par-boil, you’re looking for the point when you can stick your knife into the centre of the potato, but it does not slip off when you hold it downwards. When they’re par-boiled, drain them then put them back into their boiling pot with the lid on, and shake them until they are fluffy on the outside (and then let dry). To be honest, though, if I’m not looking to seriously impress then I generally don’t bother with par-boiling.
- Washing – again, going the extra mile here: after peeling and chopping the spuds, I sometimes leave them in a sink full of cold water for fifteen minutes or so (this can vary any time up to a few hours), swirling them occasionally to get all the excess starch out. Once drained, pat them dry in a clean tea towel and leave them there in a one-layer row to completely dry off (or, you know, as much as possible). (Don’t use this if par-boiling. You could skip to the drying stage once your potatoes have cooled, if you can really be bothered.)
Note: with par-boiling and salting, pat off excess moisture with a clean tea towel or kitchen roll to ensure maximum crispness.
Note as well: lots of these tips can be used for making wedges too!