Saturday, 22 December 2018

The New River Dining roast potato.

The kit
How good are these? One doesn't like to brag but guests have said they've not had better. I want crunchy exteriors, deep golden, friable edges and fluffy insides. Those meekly tanned, leathery efforts are an insult to their cooks. If I wanted jackets I'd have left the skins on.

The real trick is to flavour the oil. I like onions and thyme. And also don't be scared of salt. Use a crystal salt to give you crunch too.

Maris Piper with shallots, thyme and marrow bone. Ready for the oven

I have a few rules, most of which you'll probably be familiar with. We are a post-Delia nation after all. The basic sequence is: peel, parboil, fluff, baste, roast.
  • Use Maris Pipers. These are the least wet spuds available. It's all about the starch. Lots of dry matter gives you a fluffy finish, little dry matter and you have a soapy texture.
  • Make sure the potatoes are evenly sized. Again, it's just obvious: same size = same cooking time
  • Parboil the potatoes. Heston does it almost to destruction but that's a world of pain. I usually stick around 12 minutes.
  • Dry the potatoes after boiling. Space them out on a clean tea towel and allow them to steam themselves dry. You can rough up the surface by gently shuffling them about too.
  • Use the heaviest, thickest roasting pan you have. Sadly these are expensive. Thick pans spread the heat yes but more importantly they don't warp. If you hear your roasting pan/tray buckling in the oven, it means some potatoes now have a lot of fat and some have none. It doesn't even have to be a roasting tray. Use a few decent cake tins. M
  • Heat the roasting pan on the hob and make sure your oil is very hot. Roll the pots in the oil, covering all sides.
  • Use goose fat. I'm not as fascist about this I once was. I've used cheapy sunflower oil and expensive rape seed with decent results. Personally I think olive oil imparts the wrong flavour.
  • Flavour the oil. Fry up some onion or shallots first and then some thyme. leave the aromatics in. the onion can also be served up. On this occasion I had some chunks of bone marrow so I roasted that too.
  • Roasting is about hot air. Air means S P A C E. Don't crowd your pots in the pan. They will steam not roast.
  • Turn the potatoes half way through the cooking. 
  • Cook for at least an hour. Ignore recipes that pretend you can do it in less. I don't think the temperature matters as much as the time. I tend to go for 90 minutes at 180°C. Much above 200°C and things can char to bitterness. You can always take them out early. Roast pots will reheat without worry. That length of time means the onions will be almost black and your pots will have a savoury bake to them; a scarf of invisible umami (sorry).



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