Monday, March 15, 2010

Duck Fat Roast Potatoes

Roast potatoes are the perfect accompaniment to meat dishes like a Sunday roast or BBQ dinner.

Potatoes roasted in duck fat are in my opinion the crispiest, tastiest and the best in the world. But if duck fat isn't available where you live or you don't want to risk increasing your chances of getting heart disease, you can substitute with either olive oil or vegetable oil. Or, for a lighter version, spray with olive oil spray or canola oil spray.

But how do you make your roast potatoes crispy on the outside and soft on the inside???

Here are my 5 easy steps for roasting perfect potatoes:

1. Use the right potatoes.
Floury or waxy potatoes such as pontiac, sebago, coliban or desiree are the best varieties to use for making roast potatoes. Floury potatoes have a lower moisture content and because of their high starch content, they have a fluffy texture when cooked which makes them excellent for baking. Waxy potatoes can also be used as they retain their shape well when cooked. Always, select firm, dry potatoes with no signs of greening skin or sprouts.

2. Par-boil the potatoes first.
Once they are peeled and cut into similar sizes, put the potatoes into cold, salted water and bring to the boil. Once the pot is boiling, boil for about 5 minutes, then drain all the water off, let some of the steam evaporate off, then clamp on the lid and shake the potatoes about until the edges have slightly bruised and fluffed up. This is what will absorb the oil to make a crisp surface as the potato roasts. You can also scratch the surface of the potatoes with a fork for the same effect.

3. Heat the oil first
In a roasting pan or baking tray, that is large enough to take the potatoes in a single layer, put enough oil to cover the bottom with ease. The potatoes mustn't be bathing in the oil though. Put the tray into the hot oven 200°C for 10 minutes before the potatoes need to go in (you can do this whilst the potatoes are boiling). Once the oil is hot, put the potatoes in so they sizzle and toss them so they are coated all over, then return the tray to the oven to roast. The potatoes can be turned two or three times during cooking.

4. Timing
The potatoes need to stay in the hot oven until the very last minute when you are ready to serve. If they hang around keeping warm they lose their crisp edge and gradually dwindle into leathery bullets. They also need at least an hour at 200°C to reach optimum crispiness.

5. Temperature
Keep the hottest part of the oven for the potatoes. Juggling roast meat, roast potatoes and everything in a small oven is tricky but the potatoes will only get crisp if they can bask in blazing heat for a while- minimum oven temperature for roasting potatoes is 200°C. If all else fails, when the meat comes out to rest, turn the oven up to max and put the potatoes on the top shelf for a blasting.


500g potatoes - floury potatoes are best
2 tbsp duck fat
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel and cut the potatoes into even size pieces, put into a suitable size saucepan with plenty of cold salted water, bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Do not overcook.

2. Drain the potatoes, removing as much water as possible. Put potatoes back in the saucepan.

3. Add the duck fat to the potatoes with salt and pepper. With the lid on, give them a vigorous shake to rough up the edges and coat them with the duck fat.

4. Place potatoes in a tray and roast in the oven until golden and crunchy. Remove the roast potatoes from the tray when you're ready to serve up. Add salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

Notes & Tips

Before placing the potatoes in the oven add some whole garlic cloves and sprigs of rosemary for a great aroma.

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