One of the best things about winter is dishes like a hearty, warming roast. But to bring the dish to a whole new level, sometimes it’s all about the smaller things and unsung heroes. In this case, we’re talking the roast potato. Perfect for enjoying with a host of classic winter dishes, a perfectly roasted potato can transform any old meal.
The key to pleasing results with roasting potatoes is in choosing the correct variety. What you need to keep in mind is that some varieties are more suited to mashing, boiling and baking, or even making gratins potato gnocchi. Make sure you do a little research before selecting a certain type and always ask your greengrocer for specific varieties to roast, or check the rear of the bags at the supermarket for their recommended usages.
Par boiling is the next vital step, along with adding aromatics like garlic and rosemary. Cooking with duck fat will also make the humble roast potato a marvellous, gastronomic accompaniment.
What you’ll need:
- 1kg Russet , Sebago, Spunta, Golden Wonder, Royal Blue or Kipfler potatoes
- 1 head garlic
- 1 tied bunch rosemary
- 1 tsp salt
- 100ml peanut oil or sunflower oil
- 50g duck fat (see sources)
- 50g unsalted butter
- salt to taste
1. Peel and cut the potatoes into even small to medium size pieces.
2. Cover the potatoes with cold water and add garlic, rosemary and salt. Bring to a simmer around 120°C and cook for 5 minutes until they begin to overcook.
3. Drain carefully in a colander, then place onto a tray with a tea towel to dry. In our restaurants, for really crispy potatoes, we allow the potatoes to cool and dry in a fridge overnight, then we fry them twice – this method is called ‘triple cooked’.
4. Separate the potatoes, garlic and rosemary.
5. Break the garlic into its natural cloves leaving the skin on and heat in a wide frying pan with peanut oil. Arrange the potatoes in the pan and shallow fry gently.
6. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C and put the potatoes in.
7. Turn the potatoes one by one as they colour until all sides are even. Add garlic cloves and rosemary cut from the bunch, drain off ¾ of the oil and add duck fat and cook for 15 more minutes. Drain off excess fat. Retaining the potatoes in the pan, add a small amount of butter and continue to fry gently until crisp all over. Season with a pinch of salt flakes.
Cook’s Note: Duck fat is regarded as a good unsaturated fat widely used in the southwest of France and available at most gourmet shops. It has wonderful flavour. Wagyu beef or bacon fat is terrific too.