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foodrambler

Perfect Roast Potatoes

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I’ve always been led to believe that roasting potatoes is a fine art. And as my mum is a maestro, I thought it best never to cook them myself. There is a glitch here though: I’m cooking dinner at mine on Christmas day and having visions of my mum carrrying trays of of hot fluffy, crispy roasties through the drizzly streets of London and the poor tatties dying on the way, arriving cold, leathery and sad. So, last week I tried to cook some myself and here is the result, pictured with ginger tuna and lime, avocado, cherry tomato salad - not the most suitable accompaniment I know…

So, I thought I’d go with Heston Blumenthal’s recipe from In Search of Perfection. Surely that’s got to be a pretty perfect potato! I was mightily surprised to find he uses olive oil - the debates that rage over the best roasties always seem to be about goose fat, duck fat, lard… in fact anything but the healthy option. But Blumen knows best. Or does he?

I followed the recipe, leaving out the garlic and rosemary so I could get down to the nitty gritty essential taste of the potato. And I didn’t bother with peelings in a muslin bag - who keeps a muslin bag hanging around? These potatoes were undeniably crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They looked perfect. But they didn’t taste like the goosey, moreish potatoes I’m used to. There just seemed to be something missing. I don’t really want to advocate animal fat over olive oil, but if I’m only going to have roasties a few times a year, I know what I’d prefer… But what do you think?

http://foodrambler.com/2008/12/01/the-perfect-roast-potato/

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I’ve always been led to believe that roasting potatoes is a fine art. And as my mum is a maestro, I thought it best never to cook them myself. There is a glitch here though: I’m cooking dinner at mine on Christmas day and having visions of my mum carrrying trays of of hot fluffy, crispy roasties through the drizzly streets of London and the poor tatties dying on the way, arriving cold, leathery and sad. So, last week I tried to cook some myself and here is the result, pictured with ginger tuna and lime, avocado, cherry tomato salad - not the most suitable accompaniment I know…

So, I thought I’d go with Heston Blumenthal’s recipe from In Search of Perfection. Surely that’s got to be a pretty perfect potato! I was mightily surprised to find he uses olive oil - the debates that rage over the best roasties always seem to be about goose fat, duck fat, lard… in fact anything but the healthy option. But Blumen knows best. Or does he?

I followed the recipe, leaving out the garlic and rosemary so I could get down to the nitty gritty essential taste of the potato. And I didn’t bother with peelings in a muslin bag - who keeps a muslin bag hanging around? These potatoes were undeniably crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They looked perfect. But they didn’t taste like the goosey, moreish potatoes I’m used to. There just seemed to be something missing. I don’t really want to advocate animal fat over olive oil, but if I’m only going to have roasties a few times a year, I know what I’d prefer… But what do you think?

http://foodrambler.com/2008/12/01/the-perfect-roast-potato/

I'm with the olive oil school of thought and I consider my roast potatoes to be perfect. I simply cut small red potatoes in half, smear around some olive oil and a spice blend around on a sheet pan and roast cut side down at 400F. The spice is what ever I'm using on rotisserie chicken which what I generally serve the potatoes with, one of the red Penzey's blends. Olive oil is important, vegetable isn't the same. I don't know where I'd get goose fat if I wanted it.

The outside is nicely crisped and a soft inside.

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Olive oil is best for roasting, in my opinion. Goose fat is better if you are frying the potatoes on the stove top, or making rosti. Honestly, who is going to say no to a roasted potato, regardless of the fat vehicle?

Also, can you make the potatoes on site, instead of traipsing across town with them? A reheated roasted potato is the worst thing on earth.

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If it's a fine art, it's one that's hard to get wrong.

Not having any goose fat handy, I can't comment. Sounds good. I will say that I've had many happy results with olive oil.

My method has evolved a bit: any kind of new potato will work, but fingerlings like La Ratte, French Fingerling, or Russian banana are decidedly the most delicious I've had. I cut them in halfs or quarters depending on size, and toss in a bowl with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Roast in a sheet pan at 500°. No need to monkey around with low temperatures. After 20 minutes or so they'll be about 90% done.

In the mean time, I'll pick my flavors ... usually some kind of herb, like rosemary or thyme. I'll finely mince the herb if it needs it, and blend with more olive oil. When the potatoes are almost done, I'll pull them out, turn the oven down very low (as low as 170, but if i need the oven for something else, this temp can be flexible) and open the door to cool it rapidly. Pour the herb infused oil all over the potatoes and mix well.

But them back into the cooled oven. Over the next 20 minutes or so flavors will infuse and potatoes will get buttery. If you need to hold them longer than this, cover with foil so they don't dry out. But it's better to have them sooner, so you can enjoy the crisp crust.

The idea is that you don't actually want to roast your herbs for a long time at high temps. This method lets you get the flavors into the taters without any harm.


Notes from the underbelly

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If it's a fine art, it's one that's hard to get wrong.

Not having any goose fat handy, I can't comment. Sounds good. I will say that I've had many happy results with olive oil.

My method has evolved a bit: any kind of new potato will work, but fingerlings like La Ratte, French Fingerling, or Russian banana are decidedly the most delicious I've had. I cut them in halfs or quarters depending on size, and toss in a bowl with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Roast in a sheet pan at 500°. No need to monkey around with low temperatures. After 20 minutes or so they'll be about 90% done.

In the mean time, I'll pick my flavors ... usually some kind of herb, like rosemary or thyme. I'll finely mince the herb if it needs it, and blend with more olive oil. When the potatoes are almost done, I'll pull them out, turn the oven down very low (as low as 170, but if i need the oven for something else, this temp can be flexible) and open the door to cool it rapidly. Pour the herb infused oil all over the potatoes and mix well.

But them back into the cooled oven. Over the next 20 minutes or so flavors will infuse and potatoes will get buttery. If you need to hold them longer than this, cover with foil so they don't dry out. But it's better to have them sooner, so you can enjoy the crisp crust.

The idea is that you don't actually want to roast your herbs for a long time at high temps. This method lets you get the flavors into the taters without any harm.

La Ratte, French Fingerling, or Russian banana - those are great potato names! Do you know if they're available in the UK? Thanks for the recipe - sounds deliciously herby.

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  Honestly, who is going to say no to a roasted potato, regardless of the fat vehicle? 

Me, if they are made with vegetable oil. Quite vomitously revolting.

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ive been staring at the Dean and Deluca site all day... saw a dish that clicked in the last few minutes... oddly enough it was with potatoes...

I was thinking... Buy a fingerling a round one... not a elongated one, bake it till its cooked, scoop out the middle, mash it with cream, cheese, and truffle oil... Repack it into the middle, bake with maybe some cheddar ontop, finish with bacon bits, or chives, or sliced on the bias green onions!! mnmmmmmmmm

if you have truffle butter, or caramelized mushrooms, or onions... Also, you can bake it the second time, and freeze after for a quick app for a party...


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I may be in the gutter, but I am still staring at the stars.

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Well I'll vote for goose fat, for me nothing quite compares.

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I don't think anyone here is going to argue that vegetable oil is not the best conduit for roasting potatoes, or anything, for that matter.

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If it's a fine art, it's one that's hard to get wrong.

Not having any goose fat handy, I can't comment. Sounds good. I will say that I've had many happy results with olive oil.

My method has evolved a bit: any kind of new potato will work, but fingerlings like La Ratte, French Fingerling, or Russian banana are decidedly the most delicious I've had. I cut them in halfs or quarters depending on size, and toss in a bowl with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Roast in a sheet pan at 500°. No need to monkey around with low temperatures. After 20 minutes or so they'll be about 90% done.

In the mean time, I'll pick my flavors ... usually some kind of herb, like rosemary or thyme. I'll finely mince the herb if it needs it, and blend with more olive oil. When the potatoes are almost done, I'll pull them out, turn the oven down very low (as low as 170, but if i need the oven for something else, this temp can be flexible) and open the door to cool it rapidly. Pour the herb infused oil all over the potatoes and mix well.

But them back into the cooled oven. Over the next 20 minutes or so flavors will infuse and potatoes will get buttery. If you need to hold them longer than this, cover with foil so they don't dry out. But it's better to have them sooner, so you can enjoy the crisp crust.

The idea is that you don't actually want to roast your herbs for a long time at high temps. This method lets you get the flavors into the taters without any harm.

That sounds just about perfect. I like the late addition of herbs.

Typically, I use olive oil or olive oil/butter mix but if goose fat is around, I'd not hesitate to use it - sparingly.


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Goose is hard for me in Seattle, really cause I have no idea where to look.

We have available though, some really good lards. Wouldn't they work well?

My real problem with roasting Potatoes has been how long at what is temp. Anyone have a formula?


Robert

Seattle

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Paul, that method look interesting, and since I had great success with your turkey poaching method (in case you haven't been back to the Thanksgiving thread) I think I'll try this one too.

I'm another one who uses goose fat in the pan, olive oil in the oven, although I don't have anything like a scientific reason for making the distinction.

Robert - I'm not sure about goose fat, but you can get duck fat, which is also very nice for potatoes, at Whole Foods in Seattle.


Edited by Abra (log)

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My real problem with roasting Potatoes has been how long at what is temp.  Anyone have a formula?

You really don't need a formula. Time will vary depending on the size and nature of the potatoes. In my experience, a very hot oven works best ... does a great job browning and crisping the outside while giving you a buttery and moist interior. I roast at 500 degrees, and start checking at 20 minutes or so. Sooner if the pieces of potato are small.

But no matter how you decide to do it, you should pay attention to the potatoes, not the clock.


Notes from the underbelly

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Just a thought here, as I am curious, but goose and turkey are both fowl. What would it be like if you substituted turkey fat for goose fat?

doc

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That's an interesting idea, since that's likely to be more available, but for some reason, it just doesn't sound as appetizing. That may be just my own weird gut reaction.

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Just a thought here, as I am curious, but goose and turkey are both fowl.  What would it be like if you substituted turkey fat for goose fat?

doc

I think, as a general rule, that turkey fat would be problematic just because of the fact that turkey fat is pretty difficult to obtain... turkeys are pretty lean and don't have much fat... you can't go to the supermarket or specialty store and pick up a jar of turkey fat - plus, with turkeys - usually you want to add as much fat as possible (basting) to compensate for the natural lack of it.... but ducks and geese have lots of fat, which is easily and purposely rendered...

I also think that, traditionally, potatoes were typically roasted in duck or goose fat while roasting the duck or goose - so you would roast the potatoes that would render out as the bird roasted. It's a great way to use something that may ordinarily be thrown out, plus, it's really tasty...

ETA - also, while turkeys and geese are both fowl, they are different types of fowl... geese and ducks are migratory water fowl, while turkeys would be more related to chickens.. so that changes the anatomy of the birds - ducks are all dark meat to more efficiently deliver oxygen and energy to the wings/chest during long flights, and have lots of subcutaneous fat to protect them from the cold water and be burned for energy, while chickens and turkeys generally just stand around on land, and only use their wings for short bursts - short flights or flapping to show dominance or something -

Plus, I'd imagine that you could also add breeding to the argument - in the recent past, mass marketed chickens and turkeys have been bread for large breasts and minimal fat... ducks and geese aren't usually produced in nearly the same numbers as chickens and turkeys, so it's not as important to try to breed out or in different characteristics...


Edited by KennethT (log)

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Just a thought here, as I am curious, but goose and turkey are both fowl.  What would it be like if you substituted turkey fat for goose fat?

doc

I have not used Turkey fat but I've successfully used chicken schmaltz many times as a sub for duck/goose fat when I had neither on hand. Easily my 2nd favorite after goose/duck fat. Turkey *should* work well too.


Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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How about Nyafat, the Kosher (parve) answer to chicken fat for when you're cooking dairy? I think it might work well.


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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If it's a fine art, it's one that's hard to get wrong.

Not having any goose fat handy, I can't comment. Sounds good. I will say that I've had many happy results with olive oil.

My method has evolved a bit: any kind of new potato will work, but fingerlings like La Ratte, French Fingerling, or Russian banana are decidedly the most delicious I've had. I cut them in halfs or quarters depending on size, and toss in a bowl with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Roast in a sheet pan at 500°. No need to monkey around with low temperatures. After 20 minutes or so they'll be about 90% done.

In the mean time, I'll pick my flavors ... usually some kind of herb, like rosemary or thyme. I'll finely mince the herb if it needs it, and blend with more olive oil. When the potatoes are almost done, I'll pull them out, turn the oven down very low (as low as 170, but if i need the oven for something else, this temp can be flexible) and open the door to cool it rapidly. Pour the herb infused oil all over the potatoes and mix well.

But them back into the cooled oven. Over the next 20 minutes or so flavors will infuse and potatoes will get buttery. If you need to hold them longer than this, cover with foil so they don't dry out. But it's better to have them sooner, so you can enjoy the crisp crust.

The idea is that you don't actually want to roast your herbs for a long time at high temps. This method lets you get the flavors into the taters without any harm.

La Ratte, French Fingerling, or Russian banana - those are great potato names! Do you know if they're available in the UK? Thanks for the recipe - sounds deliciously herby.

gallery_1890_1967_257360.jpg

gallery_1890_1967_313814.jpg

Fingerlings from Union Square Greenmarket :wink:

Top (left to right): Mixed fingerlings, Gold Nugget, Ruby Crescent

Bottom (left to right): Russian Banana, Purple Peruvian, Ozette Fingerling, Ruby Crescent, La Ratte

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