Ten Top Tips For Perfect Roast Potatoes
Who can resist gorgeous, golden, crunchy potatoes?
Potatoes are a wonderful accompaniment to roast chicken, beef recipes, and pork and lamb dishes; especially when they’re perfectly roasted, and served with plenty of thick, rich and meaty gravy.
But it’s not easy to produce excellent roast potatoes every time, and to achieve that perfect balance between a crisp, golden crust on the outside, and a soft, fluffy texture on the inside. The tricky part comes in trying to achieve a crispy outside that is not too chewy.
Roast potatoes need not be tricky to make. If you follow some basic techniques you’ll be able to make them quickly and easily.
Here are our top tips and tricks for perfecting the art of roast potatoes:
1. Choose the right type of potato. Some potatoes are not suitable for roasting because they are too dense, ‘wet’ or ‘waxy’ to dry out properly in the oven. Carefully check the packet before you buy the potatoes – it should clearly state that they are suitable for mashing, and/or for baking and roasting. This type of potato has a drier, fluffier texture on the inside. Potatoes that are labelled ‘suitable for boiling’ only, or for potato salads, will not produce a good result.
2. Properly heat your oven. Fifteen minutes before you put the potatoes in to roast, heat your oven to 180°C, and switch on the oven fan. If your oven does not have a fan, heat it to 190°C.
3. To peel or not to peel? It’s up to you whether or not you peel your potatoes. Potatoes that are completely peeled and then cut into large chunks will crisp up nicely on all sides, whereas unpeeled potatoes that you’ve cut into wedges, or into halves or quarters, will become really crunchy only on their peeled sides. Potato peels are packed with nutrients, however, and they tend to absorb less fat in the roasting pan, so it’s usually best to leave the skin on. Leave the classic peeled roast potatoes for special occasions, such as Sunday lunches or festive occasions!
4. Prevent browning. If you’re peeling your potatoes some time before you parboil them (see below) and roast them; drop them into a bowl filled with cold water, and add a squeeze of lemon juice or a few drops of vinegar. This will prevent them from turning brown.
5. Always parboil your potatoes. Parboiling (in other words, partly cooking) your potatoes before you roast them in fat is very important, because this is what produces a beautiful, crisp ‘crust’ on the surface of the potato. Potatoes that have not been parboiled tend to have a ‘leathery’ skin that does not crisp up well. This leathery skin makes the potatoes more chewier, with less of a soft, fluffy centre. To parboil potatoes, cut them into large chunks, or halves, or wedges, and place them in a pot filled with plenty of rapidly boiling, lightly salted water. Cook them for 6 - 8 minutes, depending on their size, or until the surface of the potato pieces are soft, but they are still a little ‘crunchy’ and raw on the inside.
6. Dry them out! Drain the partly cooked potatoes well in a big colander or a large sieve set over your sink. Now leave them in the colander to dry out for at least 15 minutes, or until they have stopped steaming and have cooled. In the meantime, place a roasting tray or baking sheet in the hot oven to heat through.
7. Roughen the surfaces. Before you put the parboiled potatoes into the oven to roast, gently shake and toss the pieces in their colander to ‘roughen up’ the cut surfaces. This will create a bumpy, uneven exterior that will crisp up well in the oven.
8. Add the fat. Place the potato pieces on the preheated oven tray and drizzle them generously with olive or sunflower oil – not too much, but just enough lightly to coat their surfaces. The potatoes pieces should not be swimming in fat, and nor should they be too dry.
9. Season and toss them! Now flavour the potatoes: add a little salt and freshly ground pepper, and/or your favourite Robertsons Spices, or a light dusting of one of KNORR's Potato Bake range for a scrumptious flavour. Roast potatoes are also very good with dried or fresh rosemary and thyme, such as this delicious dish of roast potatoes wrapped in bacon with rosemary. You can also spice them up with chilli flakes, or curry spices, or with fresh garlic and a spritz of lemon juice. Now, using your hands or a large spatula, gently toss the potatoes together so each piece is well coated with oil and seasonings. Don’t worry if the potato pieces break up a little – this will create some delicious crunchy bits!
10. Get ready to roast! Place the roasting tin on the middle rack of the oven and roast the potatoes for 50 - 70 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crunchy. The time this will take depends on the heat and efficiency of your oven, and on the variety of potato you’ve chosen. For best results, turn the tray once or twice during the roasting process. If the potatoes are not a beautiful deep golden colour and very crisp after this time, roast them for a little longer.
Once you’ve perfected the art of the roast potato, you’re ready to serve them with tons of different dinner recipes. Check out our recipes and find great pairings for scrumptious, golden roast potatoes.