Crispy golden roast potatoes with a satisfying crunch and soft fluffy interior to soak up the gravy are one of life’s pleasures. They are the difference between a successful Sunday lunch and a disappointing one. We’ve all had a pub lunch where the potatoes were tough and leathery with little flavour and have been sitting around being kept warm for too long. There is no need for that at home when they can be served straight from the oven, but there are a few important secrets to really good roast potatoes:
First of all roast potatoes don’t like to be kept hanging around. Leave them cooking in the oven until you are ready to serve the meal, they will only keep on getting crispier.
Second, they should be par-boiled for about 5-8 minutes, drained well and then shaken in the pan to rough up their edges. This fluffy texture is what soaks up the oil and produces a crispy finish.
Lastly, the oil should be heated in the roasting tin before you put them in, so they sizzle madly when you tip them into the tin.
This is less a recipe than a guide to producing roast potatoes that will have all your family and friends coming to visit on Sundays.
How to cook really crispy roast potatoes
Allow about 200-300g / 7-10oz of potatoes per person, depending on appetite. Peel the potatoes and cut them into halves or quarters depending on how big they started off.
Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F.
Put the potatoes in a pan of cold salted water and bring them to the boil. When the pan boils, cook them for 5-8 minutes depending on the size you cut them into. Drain the pan well, reserving some of the water for gravy. Let the steam rise so the potatoes dry a little, then put the lid on the pan and shake it vigorously, so the surface of all the potatoes is fluffed up roughly. Leave the lid off so the steam can rise. It doesn’t matter if some of the smaller potatoes have crumbled; these crumbs will make those wonderful crispy, crunchy bits that everyone fishes for in the bowl.
Meanwhile pour a layer of olive oil, or a mixture of olive and sunflower oil into your roasting tin. It should cover the base of the tin easily, but only a couple of mm deep. If you have leftover lamb or beef dripping from a previous Sunday roast, you can use a dollop of that with some olive oil to help with the crispness. Put the tin into the oven to heat while the potatoes are boiling, for about 5 minutes, until just smoking.
Tip the drained and fluffed potatoes into the hot oil and turn them so they are well coated on all sides. They should all fit in one layer. If they don’t, use a second roasting tin and more hot oil.
Roast on the top shelf of the oven for about 1 ½ hours. Turn them about three times during the cooking period. When they are golden on all sides they are done, but if people are not ready to sit at the table leave the potatoes in the oven for a few minutes longer to keep the crispness.
If the potatoes still look a bit pale when you take the meat out of the oven to rest, turn up the heat to maximum and put them on the top shelf for the last ten minutes. A quick short cut is to put them under the grill for 5 minutes to get a golden finish.
Still looking for the ultimate Sunday lunch that you don’t have to cook? Why not try The Old Hall restaurant in Buxton for a classic Sunday roast.