Roast potatoes were something of a staple growing up in my house. We had them three or four days a week (no, I’m not exaggerating), because that was how much my father loved them. It was the same for him when he grew up, but I am happy to say that I have not carried on the family tradition. I love roast potatoes too, but I really don’t want to live off them.
I don’t make them as my father did. In my childhood he would use animal fat to roast them and now he uses vegetable oil. I prefer coconut oil for mine because it gives them a distinct and pleasant flavour, particularly at Christmas, when you want something a little special. Coconut oil is the vegan version of goose fat in this case. One technique I have stuck to all these years, however, is to parboil the potatoes first. For me, it is a step not to be missed. It ensures that the potato can be cooked at a high enough temperature to become crisp and still make sure it is cooked through. It also allows you to fluff them. Fluffing your potatoes is where you shake them in the colander prior to putting them in the oven. This gives them a rough and crumbly edge that will make really crispy potatoes.
Floury spuds are the key. Maris Piper, Desiree and King Edward are the ones used most often and every cook will have their favourite. Marfona are the only variety my father will use for his roasties. Maris piper are my chosen variety here, but I’m just as at home with the others. Feel free to experiment and find what suits you best.
Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: just over an hour. Cooling time: 15-20 minutes.
2kg floury potatoes (Maris Piper are good)
2 tbsp coconut oil
Pinch of flaky sea salt
Rosemary to garnish
First have a large saucepan half filled with cold water on standby. Peel your potatoes and cut them in half, then put them straight into the water. Make sure there is enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring the pot to the boil and then continue to boil gently for about 6 minutes, until the potatoes are soft around the edges but not cooked all the way through. Drain the parboiled potatoes using a colander, reserving as much of the water as you can for gravy if you are making any. Leave the potatoes in the colander to cool for about 20 minutes.
While they are cooling preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F.
Fluff the cooled potatoes by shaking them gently in the colander, until they have a rough coating. Put the coconut oil onto a baking tray and heat in the oven until very hot. The potatoes should sizzle when you put them in the pan. Pour all of the potatoes into the pan, being careful not to splash yourself with the oil (I did exactly that during the making of these ones). Sprinkle with the sea salt and turn over to fully coat them. Cook near the top of the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how browned you like them. Turn them after 20 minutes or so, but not before, then turn them again, if necessary, 5 minutes or so before they are done. To serve, sprinkle with more sea salt and fresh rosemary.