Truly Crunchy Roast Potatoes - par boil, rough up the surface, dust with semolina then bake in a very hot oven in preheated oil. Based on a Nigella recipe.
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4.98 from 46 votes

Truly Crunchy Roast Potatoes

Roast potatoes that have a thick, crunchy crust and are soft and fluffy on the inside. Based on a Nigella Lawson recipe, except she uses goose fat instead of cooking oil. Directions for her recipe are included in the notes. You can cut down on the fat if you want, but the less the oil, the thinner the crunchy crust and the less crunchy it will be. I do not recommend reducing it less than 1/3 cup. These potatoes are the perfect accompaniment to the Slow Roasted Rosemary Garlic Lamb Shoulder and can be made while the lamb is resting.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Potatoes, Side
Servings: 6 - 8
Author: Nagi | RecipeTin Eats

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup / 165 ml 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)
  • 3 lb / 1.5 kg potatoes (Note 2)
  • 2 tbsp semolina (best substitute is polenta)
  • 2 tsp salt (increase to 3 tsp if you have a salty palette) (Note 3)

Instructions

  • 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).

Notes

1. One of the reasons that Nigella's recipe works is because the smoke point of duck and goose fat is so high. Coating the potatoes in the hot oil when they go into the oven helps immensely in creating a crunchy crust. The hotter the oil, the better the crust.
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.