Christmas is a wonderful, wonderful time of year – it’s all about the Fs really.
Family, friends, fun and food.
While we’re all divided over which is the best part of a Christmas dinner, we’re all united on one thing – that roast potatoes are bae.
Show me a human who likes a soft roast potato and I’ll show you a liar or a damn fool, for we all know that fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside is the way to go.
Problem is, there’s always such conflict over how you make a good roast tatty, so we wanted to set the record straight once and for all, as it upsets us that some families might be being served up soggy spuds.
We went searching for a roast potato expert and knew I had struck gold with Sian Meades (co-founder and editor of daily lifestyle newsletter Domestic Sluttery) when she let slip that she has a roast potato party every Christmas.
‘This is very much my (crispy-edged) area,’ she admitted, as we drained her of all her tatty tips.
What type of potato do I need?
‘You need a floury potato – the floury edges are the bits that go crispy,’ explains Sian.
‘Maris Piper is the indisputable king, here. You can also use King Edward or Desiree.
‘However, standard white potatoes are good if you know what to do with them – par-boil them and give them a shake in the pan when they’re drained, which fluffs them up.
‘Bin off anything waxy – they won’t do in a pinch.’
How do I prepare them?
Okay, so first things first – you can’t do a lot in advance.
‘You can’t really do them in advance (despite what Mary Berry says with her half-roasted potatoes), but they’ll be fine in a bowl of water in the fridge overnight so you can get the peeling out of the way,’ says Sian.
‘God I hate peeling.’
Are we par-boiling?
‘Oh yes, I am a big fan of the par-boil,’ says Sian.
’10-ish minutes is usually enough, depending on your spud size.’
Then drain them, pop them back in an empty saucepan and give them a good shake to fluff up the edges.
What oil are we using?
‘Hot fat is the norm, and goose fat is best with turkey (beef dripping’s too rich),’ reveals Sian.
Celebrity chefs all have their favourite oil methods – Nigella is all about hot goose fat, Delia loves a bit of hot lard and the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall uses sunflower or groundnut oil.
How are we arranging them on the tray?
Just like you, roast potatoes like room to breathe at Christmas.
‘Firstly, I don’t hold truck with the around the bird method. I think you get soggy spuds,’ says Sian.
‘You need to leave a little room around the potatoes – this is the mistake more people make. They sit in the oil otherwise and don’t have the opportunity to crisp up.
‘Whenever I have buggered up my roasties this is why.’
How long should they be in the oven?
Pop them in a hot oven at 200-220 degrees, depending on if you have other stuff in the oven that needs a different temperature.
‘Leave them for at least forty minutes without turning them – let them do their thing,’ Sian suggests.
‘I reckon a little over an hour and a half in total, with one turn in the middle – that’s usually bang on.’
If you’re reading this and narrowing your eyes, you’re probably not alone.
‘Thing is, everyone has their own method that works with their oven, and their cooking skills,’ shrugs Sian.
‘Everyone on Christmas Day will throw in their opinion (without offering to help with the peeling), but how you do them and how you like them is really up to you!
‘Just make sure there are some secretly squirrelled away so you can have them cold after dinner…’
Abso-festive-lutely. May you all have crispy, fluffy potatoes this year!
And gravy coming out of your ear holes.