Perfect Roast Potatoes

Nothing makes my heart (and belly) sing more than a perfect roast potato. Crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside with a light sprinkling of good quality salt flakes, these definitely belong to the Royal Family of ‘comfort foods’. It’s not really hard to achieve perfect roast potatoes, especially if you follow a few important steps. I have made these for years with wonderful results using olive oil, but if you want to indulge in a different yet decadent fat, then you need to buy some goose fat. You can also use pork lard, and that is what I did for the potatoes you see photographed in this post. (The general rule is match the fat with the meat you are accompanying the potatoes with. i.e. lard for pork, goose fat for poultry, beef dripping for beef).

I recently made ‘Porchetta’, and there was A LOT of fat left in the baking pan when it was finished cooking. The same when you cook pork belly. Don’t throw this fat away, but leave it sit until it settles. Anything black from the baking tray will sink to the bottom, and then you can pour off the good part of the fat and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it. It is important to know that pork fat is actually good for us. Although it is a mixture of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (like all fats), pork fat is is mostly monounsaturated and it also has antimicrobial properties. Pork fat is excellent for frying as it is very stable when heated. When the saturated fatty acids are converted by the body, it is believed to have a neutral effect on cholesterol. Knowing all that though, it is true that we are what we eat, and I wouldn’t recommend having these too often. Certainly they are perfect to accompany a family Sunday lunch!

PERFECT ROAST POTATOES 1 kg potatoes (quantity isn’t really important as you just cook as many as you need) 80g goose fat, pork fat or olive oil fresh rosemary Maldon Sea Salt seasoned salt *see note

Wash, and peel potatoes. Cut into equal sized pieces. Add potatoes to a saucepan of cold water and bring to a boil. Salt water. Par-boil the potatoes for 10 minutes. While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the oven to 200°C. Add the fat to the baking pan, and put this in the oven. Drain potatoes leaving them in the saucepan. Replace the saucepan lid and shake the potatoes to create a floury, fluffy and slightly smashed surface. The shaking roughens up the cooked edges of the potato and this is part of the secret to achieving a crunchy exterior. Remove hot baking pan from oven and working quickly, add potatoes to hot fat. Turn them over to ensure their surface is completely covered in fat. Sprinkly lightly with seasoned salt. Place a sprig of fresh rosemary in baking pan (optional). Return baking pan to oven, on a high shelf and roast for 30-50 minutes. I sometimes turn them over halfway through, although this isn’t necessary and they should brown up nicely being left unattended for cooking time. Remove roast potatoes from the oven when they are golden brown. Serve as soon as possible and sprinkle with Maldon Sea Salt flakes. Never cover them to ensure they stay crisp.

*Seasoned Salt: I keep a jar of this in the refrigerator. It is easy to prepare and lasts a long time. It’s perfect to season roast meats, fish and vegetables. In a mini food processor, blend together salt, fresh rosemary, sage and fennel seeds. Store in a jar in the refrigerator.

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