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Dec 28, 2004 06:29 PM

what is the key to the perfect roast potatoes?

  • s

My husband, an Aussie, is forever lamenting about the way Americans can't do roast potatoes. I'm talking about the kind you'd have with a roast beef or lamb.

Generally, what I do is coat yukon gold pieces with olive oil and rosemary and bake on a cookie sheet. They don't seem to come out the right consistency (soft on the inside, crisp on the outside). Any other suggestions?

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  1. I have just quartered Russets, baking potatoes, and thrown them in with the dripping in the bottom of the roasting pan. They come out perfectly. The Yukon Golds may be a bit too waxy to get what you are looking for.

    1. My step-family is from England and I depaired of ever creating the seemingly effortless and perfect roasted potatoes that are a part of every roast they cook. I can do the roast, the brussels sprouts and even the Yorkshire pudding, but the potatoes beat me! One time, when I didn't have room in the roasting pan, I tried this method - SUCCESS!!! These are even better if you add all the lovely gunk from the bottom of the meat roasting pan.

      My Perfect Roasted Potatoes

      about 6 medium russet potates, peeled and cut lengthwise into quarters

      salt and pepper

      olive oil

      In a large stockpot, cover the potatoes with hot water, cover pan and bring to a boil. When the water boils, remove from heat and leave covered for 10 minutes.

      Meanwhile heat an iron skillet in a 375 degree oven. When hot, drizzle w/ a little oil and add the drained potatoes. Drizzle w/ a little more olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast for about 1 1/2 hours, tossing occasionally. You may need to add more oil, but at this temperature, probably not. They are done when browned and crisp. Season, to taste, w/ additional salt and pepper.

      Serves 4-6.

      webpage address:


      4 Replies
      1. re: kim shook

        Agreed- boiling first is the trick to perfect roasted potatoes!

        1. re: Chris VR

          I'll third this, though I will add my additional cents here. I know exactly the result you are after, and find that there are a few ideals that make this work. Firstly, use baking (i.e. Russet) potatoes (roasted red or new potatoes are delicious, but they cook differently and have a different texture and aren't the thing your hubby is looking for).

          I have best results by cutting the potatoes into chunks about 1-1/2" around, covering in generously salted water, bringing to a boil and then cooking about 7 minutes. Drain and place in a roasting pan that has been well oiled with your fat of choice.

          Drizzle with fat of choice liberally (a little more than you really think you should use, but not enough to pool deeper than 1/8" in the bottom of the pan after tossing). Roast at 375F to 425F, depending on what else is in the oven, and toss a couple of times to get the crust on a few sides of the potatoes.

          This is one of the times when I don't use olive oil, because it doesn't give the taste that I am trying to replicate. I use canola oil if doing them on their own, and cook the potatoes in the roasting pan around or under the roast they are accompanying when possible so they absorb the meat juices. I put the potatoes back in the oven while the meat is resting in this case so they crisp.

          1. re: Terrie H.

            So far, so good - the technique matches my own. But there's an extra secret. After draining the water from the pan of boiled potatoes, hold the lid on tight and vigorously shake the pan. This roughens up the surface of the potato and helps it to crisp up perfectly.

        2. re: kim shook

          Loved all of the suggestions for roasted potatoes. Tried them this weekend- one batch wnet into the pan with the roasted leg of lamb, and one batch was cooked in a caserole dish for those who do not eat anything but chicken ( how sad!). I used russet, because that is what was what I had, and boiled them for 10 minutes or so in salted water. I boiled them early in the am, and let them get good and dry. It is funny- one of the the kids HATES home fries, but loved the roasted potatoes. Go figure. I think this will be a new favorite in my house. And it is great to have another option for a starch with dinner. Too bad I have to limit my starchy intake. Thanks to all.

        3. I cover w/ foil the first 20 minutes, then uncover the last 10-20 minutes. I also get crisper potatoes when I don't crowd the roasting pan.

          1. I have two words for you: meat fat. What your husband is missing is the taste of the beef or lamb fat in the bottom of the roasting pan in which no doubt his family cooked their potatoes during part of the time the meat roasted and/or rested.

            Olive oil won't cut it for this dish, my friends.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Dorothy

              You said it!!! Beef fat is the way to go. My english hubby loves them like this...says it's just like home!

              Peel as many potatoes as you need for the meal. I use baking potatoes...they are floury-er than yukons and make a better roastie. If they are large, cut them in half (only half) and if they are smaller, leave them whole. Put them in cold salted water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, render a generous amount of beef fat in a warm pan on the much you need will depend on the number of spuds. I get the fat free at the grocery and do a bunch at a time, keep it in the freezer. Anywho...once you have your fat all ready to go, you need to score the now cool spuds...take a fork and drag it all over the spud to make it rough on the outside (holds more fat) Roll the spuds in the fat and whatever else you like - salt, rosemary etc... - and put them on a baking sheet. Put them in a 400 degree oven for a lot longer than you think...could take an hour or more to get the perfect brown. Once they are to your liking, take them out and serve immediately.

              1. re: Dorothy

                I have to agree. Meat Fat. All I do is taken raw Russet's, peel them and quarter them. I place them directly in the pan I'm roasting the meat in. A few pats of butter in the pan, salt, pepper and maybe onion powder. By the time the roast is done, the potato's are done. I flip them every half hour or so, so that all the sides are nice and brown and crispy.

                1. re: Dorothy

                  I make roasted potatoes the same way my Mom did, in the pan with the pork loin after some of the fat has rendered. They always came out great, even with regular Idahos. I'll have to try parboiling and roughing now as well.

                2. Personally, I've found Yukon golds make terrific roast potatoes.

                  Definitely parboil, then put back in the pan with a tea towel on the top and cover with the lid so they're nice and dry when you go to roast them. I used a Nigella tip this Christmas and tossed them in a couple of tablespoons of semolina, tossing them around also roughs up the outside to make them nice and crisp.

                  I also used goose fat this year, which takes them straight to heaven. I melt the fat on the stovetop to get it really hot, add the potatoes and turn them over so they're coated then roast at about 400 for nearly an hour till they're all crunch and fluff when eaten.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Athena

                    Yes, goose fat and potatoes are a match made in heaven. Duck fat is also fine, and beef fat is good in its way.

                    I prefer to parboil them as salt potatoes in upstate/central NY, with a half cup of salt. Salt potatoes also reheat unusually deliciously, which is rare for potatoes....