The Perfect Roast Potatoes, for me, are fluffy on the inside and ultra crispy on the outside. After almost 15 years of making Christmas dinner, I think I’ve got it down to 5 rules.
1. Russet potatoes. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats has the science behind it explained here; I’ve always found they work best in practice as well.
2. Cut. The idea here is to increase surface area. Russet potatoes are long, so I peel and cut them in half across the width, then stand them and cut them in half again length-wise. Each quarter is then halved length-wise and each “finger” cut into 3 triangles (make a “V” in the middle).*
3. Parboil. Put the cut potatoes in a pot of water, enough to just cover the potatoes. Add 1 tbsp of salt. Bring the water to a boil then lower to a simmer for 5 minutes, not more (or it will turn mushy when you fluff). Drain thoroughly in a colander.
4. Fluff. Again, the idea here is to increase surface area. Put the drained parboiled potatoes back in the pot. With the cover on, give it a rough shake or two to fluff the edges.
At this point, some recipes recommend adding flour or semolina, but I’ve never found it necessary.
5. High temperature. I usually preheat the oven at 500F / 260 C. While the potatoes are parboiling, put a pan of peanut oil (or if you are really fancy, duck fat) in the preheated oven for 5 minutes (careful it will smoke when you open the oven door). When everything is ready to go, transfer the parboiled, fluffed potatoes into the pan of hot oil; I use a long wok turner for this (careful it will splatter). Single layer. Roast for 50 minutes, turning halfway.
Sprinkle with sea salt before serving.
Great with a roast or, as we paired it with tonight, my husband’s awesome beer can chicken. Blueberry pie to finish.
P.S. It’s really hard to take good pictures of potatoes, y’all!
*There are times when I prefer a chunky roast potato, in which case I would simply cut each “finger” in half or use Yukon potatoes and quarter them.