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Kitchen Secrets: What's your tip for perfect roast potatoes every time?

Fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside… mmm…

Image: Shutterstock/severija

EVERY HOME COOK has their own kitchen hacks, cheats and traditions, and we want to know yours.

Each week as part of our Kitchen Secrets series, we’ll be asking readers to share their cooking tips and go-to-dishes. From the secret to quick-and-easy dinners, to the best way to scramble an egg, we’ll have a new question every seven days.

This week, we’re feeling traditional, so we’re asking…

What’s your tip for perfect roast potatoes every time?

As expected, you guys have a lot of spud expertise to offer.

There was universal agreement on one thing: Parboiling is a must. 

“My one tip is to par-boil them first. If you just put them in the oven without boiling it takes too long and they can be a bit chewy from over cooking and you have to keep basting them every 15mins. So defo par-boil them first.”

- Danilo Fernandez

Plus, make sure everything is very hot. 

Roast potatoes are best par boiled until just soft and fluffy, and then (carefully) placed in a screaming hot metal pan with screaming hot goose fat, sprinkled with sea salt and then put into a screaming hot oven!

Crispy, salty, fluffy on the inside…..delicious!

- Donna O’Shaughnessy

John had an innovative suggestion: peel them *after* parboiling, to roughen the surface. He also has a good flavour hack. 

“Par-boil the potatoes, in their skins, for 6 or 7 mins. (Peeling them after par-boiling will ensure the surface is rough). Put the goose or duck fat into a baking tray and into the oven at 170°, until very hot.

“Remove tray and carefully tip the peeled potatoes in (it WILL spit, so be careful).
Toss the potatoes in the fat, and add a few pinches of good quality sea-salt and place back in oven for 25/30 mins.

“During cooking, toss the potatoes once or twice, to ensure an even roast. For the final 5mins, increase the temperature to 220°, for a crispy finish.

“For extra flavour, add a couple of crushed garlic cloves to the oil before heating (make sure you remove before adding the spuds). For large quantities, just increase the cooking time!”

- John Strahan

Steam instead of parboiling. 

“Peel & cut potatoes. Steam for 15 mins. Toss in either hot olive oil (not extra virgin) or duck fat. Roast in hot oven.”

- Fiona Staunton

A lot of your tips revolved around getting the perfect crispy crust. Add a little flour?

“My tip is: follow Delia Smith’s recipe. Amazing and super fluffy. You parboil then, then shake the saucepan. Add a shake of flour for super duper crispness. Put them in to pre-heated oil, and cook for the guts of an hour. Gorgeous!”

- Maggie O’Sullivan Graham

Source: Shutterstock/Olexiy Bayev

Or semolina or polenta, for the same effect. (Rosemary is a great suggestion too.)

“For the twice a year I make these golden delights they are a wonderful accompaniment to roast meats, veg and even more versions of cooked potatoes (Irish stereotypes prevail in our house).

“I look to Queen Nigella, with my own twists, for perfect roasties. First parboil the spuds for about 5 minutes in salty water. Drain them, stick them back in the saucepan and shake it about to bash the potatoes inside a bit and give them rough edges. Sprinkle the potatoes with a tablespoon of semolina or polenta and shake the pan about again (with the lid on) to coat evenly. This gives them an extra delicious crispness.

“It is essential to have your goose fat (about 2tbsp) heating in the oven at 210°C. Carefully add the potatoes, and a few sprigs of rosemary if you’re feeling fancy, to the hot fat and roast for an hour. Sprinkle with Atlantic sea salt and enjoy.”

- Donna Connolly

Another crispiness tip: Pressing down in the pan

“Par boil the potatoes and cut larger ones in half so they are all equal in size. In the meantime heat up the goose or duck fat in the oven. After 15 mins of boiling add potatoes to heated fat and season with salt and pepper and lightly toss in some flour. Roast for 30 mins and then remove and slightly press down with potato edges so to create edges that will crisp up. Roast for another 20 mins and done!”

- Karina McGuinness

And finally, switch up your cutting style to maximise crunch!

“After peeling large potatoes I then would cut each one into usually three wedge shaped pieces, so they would have lots of pointed angles – that will increase the crunch factor!

“I will then boil them in salted water for about 10 mins, drain them and pour 1-2 hand fulls of semolina onto them. Holding the lid firmly onto the pot and shaking the contents vigorously until all the semolina has covered the potatoes I then put the lot into the roasting pan with sizzling goose fat and bake it at high temperature for 30-45 mins.”

- Utta Hogan

Want to be included every week?

We’re building a panel of home cooks and foodies from our readers to answer our weekly question and share their kitchen hacks. If you’re interested, send us a mail on food@thejournal.ie with ‘Home Cooks Panel’ in the subject line. Be sure to include:

  • Your name
  • Your contact details
  • What kind of foods you like cooking best

More Kitchen Secrets: What’s your life-saver when you need dinner in a hurry?>

About the author:

Michael Freeman

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