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Perfect Roast Potatoes

by . Featured in NIGELLA CHRISTMAS
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Introduction

Needs must and all that, so I have always been an open anti-perfectionist, but in truth (and I’m sorry to repeat what I’ve said before) it is impossible to cook roast potatoes without needing them to be perfect, which to me means sweet and soft inside and a golden-brown carapace of crunch without. And, strangely, no matter how many tricksy things you may succeed at in cooking, no matter what techniques you may master, nothing gives quite the contented glow of achievement that cooking a good tray of roast potatoes does.

There are three crucial things that I think make the difference: the first is the heat of the fat – if it’s not searingly hot, you don’t stand a chance, and since goose fat has a very high smoking point and tastes good, it is my annual choice here; the second is the size of your potatoes – you want them relatively small, so that the ratio of crunchy outside to fluffy interior is optimized; and, finally, I think dredging the potatoes – and this is a family practice, inherited through the maternal line – in semolina rather than flour after parboiling, then really rattling the pan around to make the potatoes a bit mashed on the surface so they catch more in the hot fat, is a major aid.

Photo by Lis Parsons.

Needs must and all that, so I have always been an open anti-perfectionist, but in truth (and I’m sorry to repeat what I’ve said before) it is impossible to cook roast potatoes without needing them to be perfect, which to me means sweet and soft inside and a golden-brown carapace of crunch without. And, strangely, no matter how many tricksy things you may succeed at in cooking, no matter what techniques you may master, nothing gives quite the contented glow of achievement that cooking a good tray of roast potatoes does.

There are three crucial things that I think make the difference: the first is the heat of the fat – if it’s not searingly hot, you don’t stand a chance, and since goose fat has a very high smoking point and tastes good, it is my annual choice here; the second is the size of your potatoes – you want them relatively small, so that the ratio of crunchy outside to fluffy interior is optimized; and, finally, I think dredging the potatoes – and this is a family practice, inherited through the maternal line – in semolina rather than flour after parboiling, then really rattling the pan around to make the potatoes a bit mashed on the surface so they catch more in the hot fat, is a major aid.

Photo by Lis Parsons.

Perfect Roast Potatoes
Photo by Lis Parsons

Ingredients

Serves: 10-16 as part of the feast

Metric Cups
  • 640 grams goose fat
  • 2½ kilograms potatoes (such as King Edward's / Yukon Gold)
  • 2 tablespoons semolina
  • 2 cups goose fat
  • 6 pounds potatoes (such as King Edward's / Yukon Gold)
  • 2 tablespoons semolina

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 250°C/gas mark 9/500°F. If you don’t have a double oven, you will have to do this as soon as the turkey is out of your single oven, which, for me, is very much later than the parboiling stage.
  2. Put the fat into a large roasting tin and then into the oven to heat up, and get frighteningly hot. 20–30 minutes should do it.
  3. Peel the potatoes, and cut each one into 3 by cutting off each end at a slant so that you are left with a wedge or triangle in the middle.
  4. Put the potatoes into salted, cold water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil, letting them cook for 4 minutes.
  5. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then tip them back into the empty, dry saucepan, and sprinkle the semolina over.
  6. Shake the potatoes around to coat them well and, with the lid clamped on, give the pan a good rotate and the potatoes a proper bashing so that their edges fuzz and blur a little: this facilitates the crunch effect later. I leave them to rest at this stage. If you don’t, you’ll need to have preheated the oven earlier!
  7. When the fat is as hot as it can be, tip the semolina-coated potatoes carefully into it (they splutter terrifically as you put them in) and roast in the oven for an hour or until they are darkly golden and crispy, turning them over halfway through cooking.
  8. If the oven’s hot enough, they may well not need more than about 25 minutes a side; but it’s better to let them sit in the oven (you can always pour off most of the fat) till the very last minute.
  9. When everything else is served up, transfer the potatoes to a large (warmed if possible) serving dish and bring to the table with pride in your heart.
  1. Preheat the oven to 250°C/gas mark 9/500°F. If you don’t have a double oven, you will have to do this as soon as the turkey is out of your single oven, which, for me, is very much later than the parboiling stage.
  2. Put the fat into a large roasting tin and then into the oven to heat up, and get frighteningly hot. 20–30 minutes should do it.
  3. Peel the potatoes, and cut each one into 3 by cutting off each end at a slant so that you are left with a wedge or triangle in the middle.
  4. Put the potatoes into salted, cold water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil, letting them cook for 4 minutes.
  5. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then tip them back into the empty, dry saucepan, and sprinkle the semolina over.
  6. Shake the potatoes around to coat them well and, with the lid clamped on, give the pan a good rotate and the potatoes a proper bashing so that their edges fuzz and blur a little: this facilitates the crunch effect later. I leave them to rest at this stage. If you don’t, you’ll need to have preheated the oven earlier!
  7. When the fat is as hot as it can be, tip the semolina-coated potatoes carefully into it (they splutter terrifically as you put them in) and roast in the oven for an hour or until they are darkly golden and crispy, turning them over halfway through cooking.
  8. If the oven’s hot enough, they may well not need more than about 25 minutes a side; but it’s better to let them sit in the oven (you can always pour off most of the fat) till the very last minute.
  9. When everything else is served up, transfer the potatoes to a large (warmed if possible) serving dish and bring to the table with pride in your heart.

Tell us what you think

What 9 Others have said

  • Oh My Word!.. followed this recipe tonight and I am absolutely over the moon to report I made THE most crispiest, delicious roasties that I have ever had in my life!... Move over Mother-in-Law as I am the new crispy roastie queen!!... A million thanks Nigella xx

    Posted by BusyMummy on 10th September 2014
  • Didn't have/can't get goose fat but used olive oil and added bacon to the last bit of cooking and it was still amazing! The semolina is a wonderful idea.

    Posted by amalif on 31st March 2014
  • I love roast potatoes and can't wait to use this recipe. Nigella, please keep providing these simple and unfussy recipes. Love, Lisabel.

    Posted by Lisabel on 26th December 2013
  • What a super idea doing potatoes in semolina instead of flour. I am going to try this today. Now going to seek out your recipe for roast chicken.

    Posted by MAYDAY1905 on 26th December 2013
  • Absolutely a classic for Christmas. But especially for after Christmas when things are a bit humdrum.

    Posted by damascusrose on 25th December 2013
  • Thank you so much indeed for all your extraordinary recipes! At home, we love you, we love your cooking! Thanks God for you.

    Posted by isaweb on 16th December 2013
  • I love roast potatoes and this is the best recipe, ever!

    Posted by GabyPanama on 4th December 2013
  • Lovely recipe. Love potatoes and this looks very good.

    Posted by praveen on 1st December 2013
  • Best potatoes in the world roll on Christmas x

    Posted by Torbayted on 4th December 2013
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