To me, the perfect roast potato has a thick, golden, super crunchy crust, it is fluffy and moist on the inside and perfectly seasoned. How many times have you gone to the effort of making a spectacular roast dinner, only to be let down by less than perfect roast potatoes?
Here’s why this recipe makes Truly Crunchy Roast Potatoes:
1) par boiling the potatoes and roughing up the potatoes creates more “suction” for the surface to absorb fat which is how you make potatoes crunchy and creates the extra thick crust;
2) the potatoes are lightly coated with semolina which creates extra crunch;
3) the potatoes are poured into a pan preheated with hot oil; and
4) the oil used is a high smoke point oil (peanut, safflower, rice bran, sunflower oil)- the hotter the oil when the potatoes go in, the better the crust.
Above all else, the 3rd and 4th points are the key. It makes all the difference and doesn’t take any extra time because the oil is heated in the pan while the oven is preheating. If you don’t have time to par boil, then cut the potatoes up smaller and dust with semolina (but it doesn’t stay on well as when you do this after par boiling), use the preheated hot oil method and you’ll notice the potatoes are a lot crunchier.
This recipe for roast potatoes came after I watched Nigella on a Christmas Special a number of years ago making her perfect roast potatoes. It changed the way I made potatoes forever, and I have never looked back.
Nigella’s recipe is rather indulgent. It is made using goose fat – A LOT of it, around 2 cups (640g/1 1/4lb). I remember reading in the news that the first year her Christmas Special aired, goose fat sold out all over the UK!!
We didn’t have that problem here in Australia because goose fat is expensive – it’s around $15 to $20 per can and you need TWO of them. So basically, making Nigella’s roast potatoes would cost close to $40! Duck fat is the closest substitute, but it is expensive as well, around $12 to $15 per can.
I have made this with both goose fat and duck fat, and it is sensational. I used fat rendered from roasting goose and duck, not store bought fat – I don’t think I could ever justify such a cost, not even for potatoes!
There is a distinct flavour using goose or duck fat that can’t be replaced with any bottled oil. BUT you can still achieve the same level of crunchiness, using the same method as Nigella does but with specific types of cooking oils instead of goose fat. And using a lot LESS oil too.
I call this Perfect Roast Potatoes for Normal People. Nigella’s Perfect Roast Potatoes is for wealthy people who can afford $40 roast potatoes! (Or if you live in the UK, where goose fat is MUCH cheaper!).
I’ve provided directions for Nigella’s recipe in the notes. Just in case you are one of “those” people!
I made these roast potatoes to go with a Slow Roasted Rosemary Garlic Lamb Shoulder. You can’t bake them at the same time because of the different oven temperatures required, but lamb shoulder can be set aside to rest for up to a couple of hours before having to reheat it. So the timing works very well!
Oh, the other thing worth noting is that the potatoes will be crunchy when they are a golden colour with only a few bits of dark brown parts. Standard roast potato recipes are typically darker brown.
Love to hear what you think if you try it! Shout out if you have any questions at all.
- ⅔ cup oil - it must be one of the following: Safflower Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Peanut Oil, Corn Oil, Sunflower Oil. I used peanut oil. (Note 1)
- 3lb / 1.5kg potatoes (Note 2)
- 2 tbsp semolina (best substitute is polenta)
- 2 - 3 tsp salt (Note 3)
- Pour the oil in a metal or cast iron baking dish and place in the oven. Crank up your oven to as high as it will go (mine is 250C/480F fan forced).
- Boil a large pot of water. Peel and cut the potatoes into large pieces, about 6cm/2.2" wide. (Note 4)
- Boil the potatoes for 10 minutes. Drain then return to the pot.
- Scatter over the semolina and salt. Clamp the lid on and give the pot 5 good shakes to rough up the potatoes. Leave the lid on and set aside.
- The oil should be hot enough by the time the oven comes to temperature. Test it by tossing in a pinch of potato - it should sizzle straight away.
- Pour the potatoes in (be careful of oil splashing). Working quickly, use an egg flip to toss the potatoes in the oil, spread them out as best you can then put the pan to the oven.
- Turn the oven down to 220C/425F. Roast for around 50 minutes, possibly up to 1 hr 15 minutes (Note 5), turning once during baking. They are ready when they are a golden brown with some browned edges and they are crunchy. (Note 6)
- Serve immediately! They will stay crunchy for around 30 minutes, but the faster you get them on the table, the better! They also crisp up pretty well when reheated - reheat @220C/425F for around 15 minutes (from room temp, add 5 min from fridge).
The oils I have listed have high smoke points i.e. they can be heated to a high temperature in the oven without smoking.
2. Perfect roast potatoes start with the right potato. It has to be a potato with a high starch content so it will bake with a fluffy inside and will soak up the oil to form a crusty exterior.
Australia - the common dirt brushed potatoes (Sebago) work great with this, it's a great all rounder. Otherwise, any of these are great all rounder potatoes for this: Desiree, Golden Delight, Kennebec, King Edwards, Pontiac, Red Rascal, Royal Blue, Spunta.
US - russet is ideal. Yukon Gold is not suitable.
UK - Maris Piper is a good all rounder which is suitable and readily available in all the supermarkets. King Edwards and Desiree are also great.
3. This might seem like alot of salt but you lose some of it in the roughing up.
4. Size matters. If the potato is too small, they will overcook before the outside becomes crunchy.
5. The roasting time depends on the strength of your oven, oil, how much you preheated the oil, and how heavy based the roasting pan is.
6. These potatoes do not roast to a dark golden brown that you may be used to with ordinary roast potatoes. They will be crunchy when they are a golden brown colour with only some browned edges.
7. Nigella's recipe has the same steps except she uses goose fat instead of normal oil. Her recipe calls for 1lb 5oz / 640g of goose fat which is 2 cans. Also she uses 5lb/2.5kg of potatoes which doesn't fit into any of my pans so I reduced the amount of potatoes.
Nutrition assumes 8 servings.