The perfect roast potato is a thing of wondrous beauty. There are very few pieces of meat that don't benefit from having these crunchy, fluffy pieces of gold as an accompaniment. In the UK, you can buy bags of frozen roast potatoes in grocery stores, which I believe is truly a crime. Not only because it's such a lazy way to make them, but because the result is so AWFUL.
A proper roast potato is not hard to make, as long as you follow a few rules, and the end result will seriously send shivers down your spine.
Golden yellow, with crunchy, brittle edges the colour of deep amber, which give way to an impossibly light and fluffy interior that disappears like cream in your mouth. NO WAY can you achieve that in twenty minutes from a bag of frozen, congealed lumps. For the same reason, make plenty, but don't make more than you plan to eat the evening of cooking, as they just don't reheat well.
I have spent the better part of twenty years making roast potatoes, stealing tips from here and there. For the past couple, I have been able to turn out platters of crunchy, golden potatoes and this is how.
The goose fat is important. So important that when I went back to the States for the last Thanksgiving, I smuggled a jar in, disguised as a pot of Karma Kream from Lush.
If you can't get goose fat, use duck, which comes in a close second. If you can't get duck fat, use grapeseed oil, as it has a high smoke point.
You need to use a floury potato, In the UK, Maris Piper, Desiree or King Edward work brilliantly, while in the States, a russett is a good choice, it just depends on the time of year and the region you live in. If you boil the potato and it begins to fall apart in a granular, floury way around the outside, then it's probably a safe bet.
So those are the two most important things. The recipe I have below is the method I follow every single time, which has yet to fail me. The addition of a few sprigs of rosemary or halved (skin on) cloves of garlic is lovely when serving with lamb or pork but here is the basic method:
Best Ever Roast Potatoes
To serve 6. Takes approximately 1 hour
1kg (2.2lbs) floury potatoes, peeled and cut into halves (or quarters if very big)
4 tbsp goose fat
1 tbsp sea salt
Heat your oven to 220C (450F)
Bring the potatoes to a boil in a large pan of salted water. Boil for around 10 minutes, keeping an eye on them. The point at which you drain them is important. You want them to be almost cooked, with tender, floury outsides. Drain in a colander and allow them to steam themselves almost dry.
You'll need a roasting tin large enough to hold the potatoes in one layer, with room around each.
put the goose fat in the tin and put on the top shelf of your oven for 5-7 minutes and the fat is stonkingly hot and almost smoking.
CAREFULLY, tip the drained potatoes into the hot fat. You need to turn them in the fat well enough to coat completely, but taking care not to break the potatoes up or splash yourself with hot fat.
Make sure the potatoes are spread out evenly and put them in the oven to roast for 40-50 minutes, removing from the oven halfway through to turn, ensuring even cooking.
Obviously, you can burn them if you leave them in for toooo long, but it's far better to have a dark amber around the edges than to bring them out too early and have a soggy, pale potato.
They're wonderful served with roast beef and Yorkshire pud, but go equally well with just about any other meat dish including pies.