I don’t know about your children, but my children don’t really want to eat potatoes. Chips, yes – potatoes? No. Kitty will eat mash and baked potatoes but Sam will only tolerate chips and during this… thing … I’d like to find a way of getting them both to eat potatoes in the same format.
And I think the answer might be roast potatoes. (Photo above not mine, but that’s what we’re aiming for, minus the green stuff). I have always found roast potatoes scary and challenging. Something about the fat and the par boiling and shall I add semolina like Nigella? And they’re never very nice in the end anyway.
But my husband worked out the secret to easy, really good roast potatoes with no fuss and no need for duck or goose fat or anything.
The key to good roast potatoes is to chill the potatoes properly between the par-boiling and roasting. If you cut them small and cook them for long enough they ought to be really crunchy and crispy and appealing to even the most fanatic chip-fiend.
The thing I like about this is that you can boil the potatoes any old time – even the day before, and then they can sit in the fridge or some other cool place and just bung them in the oven when you want them. Plain cooked potatoes keep in the fridge for up to a week.
What you do is this:
Take literally any kind of potato you’ve managed to get your hands on and cut it reasonably small, like a half a decent-sized new potato. If you want to be precise I mean about 1.5in square (homeschooling means so many more rulers about the place).
Rinse your potatoes to remove starch
Boil the potatoes briskly for 20 min and then carefully drain and then put the colander somewhere to cool down completely – outside is perfect at the moment. If possible chill in the fridge but that’s not totally necessary.
About an hour before you want to eat, heat up an oven pan with a few good slugs of light olive oil and 50g of butter – about 180C ought to do the trick. When the butter has melted tip in the potatoes and sprinkle over a good pinch of salt.
Cook these for an hour or even more – the good thing about potatoes is that nothing really bad happens to them in an oven. Turn them once or twice during cooking.
Having refused any sort of potato since forever , My children are currently obsessed with fried potatoes. Like you I par boil them then fry in sunflower oil. Crispy salty edges and decent carbs into them.
On another note, my m-I-law is convinced eating pre cooked potatoes will cause the big C. And it’s not Corona. She and I have agreed to disagree 😉
Like you I have always been a little intimidated by roast potatoes. This, from the oracle that is BBC Good Food, is a similar method if you follow the ‘Getting Ahead’ freezing tip at the end of the recipe. Works for me and the advance prep helps stress levels before a dinner party (remember those?)
Have you tried hasselback potatoes which are a bit of a halfway house between baked and crisps?
Thank you!! I’ve always been a bit scared of roast potatoes too which is embarrassing as a mother of 3 in my 40s. Happy to cook most things but mental block on these – especially since my lot announced they only like Aunt Bessies frozen ones which seems much easier. Will have a go and love the idea of prep ahead.
This is so reassuringly normal. Thanks Esther!
Being Irish and obvs loving spuds. I am going to try the cooling method tomorrow. Will update you on the result Ester.x
Apologies on the incorrect name spelling. Esther.
My old elocution teacher was called Esther.xx
In our house we call these “square chips” – worked a treat for my 5 year old! 💕💕
Exactly this – my son doesn’t like potatoes except chips though is unfussy generally. We have gradually weaned him on to roasts just by giving him one roast potato with dinner every now and then and saying nothing about it and not looking at it or him and barely daring to breathe and if he has a bite HALLELUJAH – I mean, no big deal. This last couple of weeks though, when I’ve only managed to get a massive sack of potatoes and little else, I’ve just been square with him and said he has to start getting on with them a bit better. He especially hates mash, but I made sweet corn fritters with some left overs last week and he loved them and only realised what they were made of when he’d already packed a couple away and asked if we could have them again. I could see him short circuit slightly before rationalising it to himself that it was nothing but a large chip and carrying on. My husband makes the best roast potatoes I’ve ever had anywhere. As far as I know we do it the same way – and I think I taught him how to make roast potatoes – but his always come out that bit better. I’ve pondered it and I think it’s how he cuts them, he seems to get exactly the right size and shape for a good crispy/fluffy ratio and always gets the timing right. It binds me to him more absolutely than our wedding vows because why go out for french fries etc etc
Ha! I feel like this about my husband and pastry. I taught him, and mine’s good, but his is out-of-this-world good. Mixed emotions of very very proud and slightly miffed.
Catherine Parry says
I got my timings wrong the other week and accidentally left the parboiled potatoes out for ages (like 5 hours) before roasting. Was worried they’d go funny but all my potatophobic children ate loads and husband commented that they were the best he’d ever had! It’s the way forward!
Sharon in Scotland says
I have roast pots once a year, (Christmas dinner) and don’t cook them at any other time, mainly because I would eat them, this applies to having cake and magnums in the house.
I will remember the tip for Christmas this year though
Cannot resist roasting sweet potatoes with garlic and cajun spice mix. Sod the kids, these are mine.
Sauté potatoes are good too Esther and easy to cook
Cooked mine last night for a virtual dinner party … par boiled, left to cool with minced garlic and oregano plus oil. Roasted for 20 mins then taken out (they were too early for the guests) and roasted again for 20 mins. Perfect crispy tasty roasties. I got horribly drunk and had to put myself to bed at 12.30am. Upside was didn’t have to travel home and husband cleared up. I don’t know about anybody else but I have three sisters and we are obsessed with our evening meal and food in general. Stay safe xXx
I only make roast potatoes on high days and holidays. The semolina tip works well. I’m so glad you haven’t suggested putting garlic in with them. Oliver has a penchant for that. I love garlic, I love potato but there is never a place for garlic when you’re dealing with a roast spud.
Yes! Letting them cool after par-boiling them is definitely the key! We had amazing roast potatoes at a friend’s house and they let us in on the trick. The trouble is I’ve been doing them the old way for so long I forget to allow extra time but it’ll sink in eventually. When I do remember you can definitely tell 🙂
Rosie Trotter says
It’s all about the hasselback – and you can stuff the gaps with cheese, and I don’t know a child who doesn’t like cheese…
My cousin was married to a very smart girl from the Country set and when we went to stay for the weekend once I remember being agog that she prepped the potatoes in the morning, then left them on a baking tray for the whole afternoon while we went out for the obligatory walk and then simply popped them in the oven in the evening. They were the most delicious roast potatoes I’ve ever met. She went to some finishing school and then to work in Harrods and so this is the definitely the kind of thing she was good for copying. She also pioneered the concept of having two Christmas trees. One the children can cover with all their shiny shit in the playroom and then a smart one on the sitting room that no-one except her could touch. This was 20 years ago so very before her time.
I followed your recipe today, and the potatoes were amazing! Thank you so much.
Roasting sweet potatoes and chicken with A Spice Mix is my current go-to quarantine dinner
Followed this, and the potatoes came out perfectly. Will definitely be making again!