Use floury potatoes for this dish and flavour with herbs or garlic.
Use floury potatoes for this dish and flavour with herbs or garlic. 123RF

The secret to perfect roast potatoes every time

I HAVE been on a mission to cook the perfect roast potato for too many years now. The fancy whiz-bang oven I had in my last kitchen was dreadful; despite my best efforts I failed to achieve the heady delights of a golden brown crisp exterior with a fluffy white centre.

Fast forward a few months. My new house has a bog-standard white enamel upright stove, circa 1986, and bingo. Terrific spuds, every time.

Is it the stove, or have I finally nailed the perfect combination of correct potato variety, fat and temperature? I guess I'll never know, but I'm happy to eat the results.

As far as potatoes go, you must choose a floury variety. I have a soft spot for terribly unhealthy animal fat to cook roast spuds. Duck or pork fat (lard - such an unattractive word) both give superior results. But if you want a healthier alternative, choose olive oil.

Perfect roast potatoes


2kg floury potatoes (sebago, coliban, desiree or dutch cream)

3 tbs duck or pork fat, or olive oil

3 tbs chopped fresh rosemary or thyme leaves

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (optional)

sea salt, to season.

METHOD: Preheat oven to 220C. Peel potatoes and cut in half if they are on the large side; you want pieces that are a little larger than a golf ball.

Place potatoes in a pot with enough cold water to cover. Place a lid on the pot, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for eight minutes. Turn off hotplate, drain and shake the pan; remove lid and return pot to the hotplate until the potatoes have dried out a little (about a minute). The potatoes should have roughened, fluffy edges.

While potatoes are simmering, put the fat in a roasting pan and heat in the oven. Place potatoes in the hot fat, turning to coat. Sprinkle with chopped herbs and garlic if using; cook at 220C for 30 minutes. Turn potatoes once and cook for a further 30 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

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