Roast potatoes (also known colloquially as 'roasties') are usually used as the prime starch accompaniment to a roast dinner, which is usually made up of a roast meat and several different vegetables. Some people, however, prefer to make and eat them by themselves or with other pairings.
In a nutshell: parboil, shake, coat, roast.
- Pre-heat the oven to 220°C (425°F, gas mark 7).
- Peel the potatoes and slice them into quarters or eighths depending on the size of the potato. Smaller pieces tend to make crispier roast potatoes, larger pieces tend to make softer ones.
- Put the potatoes in a saucepan of water and add a pinch of salt if you wish.
- Cover, and bring the saucepan to the boil and then allow to simmer for 10 minutes – one is parboiling the potatoes prior to roasting.
- Drain the potatoes, either removing with a slotted spoon or with a metal colander.
- Replace the lid and shake the potatoes vigorously for 20–30 seconds.
- Lightly coat potatoes with oil or fat, such as by hand tossing in a bowl, and place in tin.
- A deep tin is safer than a shallow tin, as shallow tins tip easily, spilling any loose oil.
- Sprinkle salt over the top of the potatoes.
- Place in oven, roast for 20–50 minutes – tastes and ovens differ – or until the potatoes are golden brown.
- Remove them from the oven.
- If there is any excess oil liquid (i.e., not clinging to the potatoes), it is extremely dangerous, because it is hot oil and one risks severe burns – safest is to let potatoes cool to 30–40° in oven before removing, or alternatively to carefully pull the tray partly out, and remove potatoes individually with tongs or a metal spoon.
Serve hot; they can be kept warm in the oven, but should not be piled up much, if at all.
Between parboiling and the roasting, one can deep fry the potatoes in hot oil, which yields crispier potatoes – like crisps/French fries – but, depending on procedure, this is potentially extremely dangerous, as it involves handling hot oil, and risks severe burns.
You should be familiar with deep frying safety before attempting this, and in case of any cooking oil accidents, immediately call emergency services.
Safest is to use a deep fryer between the parboiling and the roasting: boil, drain and dry (potatoes must be dried to avoid splatter from boiling water), shake, briefly deep fry, then transfer potatoes to oven and roast.
In a nutshell: heat oil in deep fryer, parboil, shake, deep fry, roast.
Fry in tray
Alternatively, one can heat oil or fat in a tray in the oven, then add the boiled potatoes to the hot oil, but this is more dangerous.
In a nutshell: preheat oil, parboil, shake, baste (fry in pan), roast.
- Preheat oil in deep tray in oven – deep to prevent spills.
- (proceed as above)
- Leaving the tray in the oven, and wearing an oven mitt, pull the rack out enough to access – carefully, as the tray will be full of hot oil
- It is safest to stand behind the oven door, and only pull out the rack slightly, to avoid it falling or tipping, thus tipping a tray of hot oil on you, causing severe burns.
- Transfer the potatoes individually into the tray with tongs, rotating to coat them in oil, or alternatively baste in oil with a metal spoon – they will sizzle.
- Alternatively, one may tip the potatoes from the saucepan into the tin and then potatoes in oil or fat, so evenly covered, but this risks splashing and spills.
- One may also read suggestions to remove the tray from the oven, as in Delia (below), but this is extraordinarily dangerous – you should never handle a container of hot oil, as the danger of spills is too great.
- (continue as above)
- Garlic and herbs may be added to the fat.
- Garlic should be crushed or minced.
- Commonly used herbs, which may be used singly or together, include basil, marjoram, thyme, oregano, parsley, or dill weed.
- Animal fat (fat from accompanying roast meat, goose fat, duck fat, or lard) is generally averred to give superior potatoes, but is alas not suitable for vegetarians.
Notes and tips
- Times & quantities are rough and can vary to suit individual tastes.
- The roughing up of the surface of the potatoes is key to a crispy surface – this is the purpose of the shaking, and can alternatively or additionally be accomplished by scraping the surface of the potatoes with a fork. Compare with forking the top of the mash in shepherd's pie.
- If initially deep-frying, the fat or oil must be hot before adding the potatoes – they should sizzle when added – else they will be greasy rather than fluffy and crisp.
- Some advocate flipping the potatoes half-way through roasting, while others assert that this is unnecessary. You may also wish to (carefully!) baste with oil partway through the roast, to ensure an even coating; again, some find this necessary, while others do not.
- Potatoes can also be cooked in the same oven and same roasting tin as the meat or other vegetables if being included as part of a roast dinner; they should go in half an hour before the meal is to be served.
- Note that the roast and other dishes may require or benefit from different cooking than the potatoes – both different temperature and different time – and hence it may be easier to cook them separately, or at least to take these differences into account.
- Using the fat from the roast requires a significant amount of fat on the roast and room in the tray – you will often find that cooking separately or with additional fat or oil is better.
- The oil in the roasting tin will be well over 100°C. Be extremely careful when handling the tin, and safest is to avoid any handling of the hot oil.