Which potato reigns supreme? (I love Iron Chef)
My friend S is quite the roast potato expert. While we were in Queensland over December and January (enjoying lovely meals here, here and here) S lamented the quality of the oven in our apartment. As we tucked into some pretty darn good roast potatoes she commented that these were nothing on her Melbourne potatoes, the quote being “if my Melbourne potatoes are a 10, these are a 5”. I decided I needed to try the “10” potatoes as soon as possible.
S decided to make a night of the roast potato taste test and also allowed us to do some carbo-loading, with three types of roast potato on offer – whole potatoes in duck fat, whole potatoes in olive oil and potatoes cut into segments with olive oil, garlic and rosemary.
Some notes on S’s roast potatoes:
- S’s preferred potatoes for roasting are desiree although she also likes ’boutique’ variety Dobson’s. Sadly she was unable to source any Dobson’s for the taste test, so she used desiree instead.
- S always parboils her potatoes before roasting, to ensure maximum fluffiness. She also parboils the potatoes whole, this means parboiling takes longer than if they are pre-cut, but the potatoes don’t absorb as much water this way, so the end result is crispier.
- When roasting whole potatoes, S will peel them before parboiling. The segmented potatoes are left with the skin on.
- When roasting whole potatoes, S will put the peeled, drained, parboiled potatoes back in the saucepan (with no oil or water), with the lid on, over low heat and ‘bash them around’. Just keep the lid on and shake the saucepan to keep the potatoes moving for a minute or so. This dries them out further and also the fluffy edges will crisp up beautifully.
- S douses the potatoes in a fair bit of olive oil or duck fat, but not too much as they can sweat rather than crisp. You can always start with a bit of oil and add more later if it is too dry in the pan.
- Potatoes should also not be crowded in the pan – when there are too many in the pan they won’t crisp up as much.
- S allows 30-40 minutes for the potatoes to cook in the oven (at 180 degrees) and will usually ‘blast’ them (putting the temperature up to 200 degrees) at the 20 minute mark if they aren’t crisping enough.
Another roast potato tip (from Delia) is to heat up your oil or fat in the oven. After the potatoes have been parboiled and bashed around, douse them in the boiling oil and pop them in the oven. I have tried this technique and to be honest, the difference in the potatoes was marginal and did not make up for the fear I had of tipping hot oil all over myself (yes I am uncoordinated).
So here are the three types of potatoes ready to go in the oven:
All the potatoes went into a pre-heated 180 degree oven for about 30 to 40 minutes. Here are the contenders:
We had seven taste testers and the winning potato, with 5 of 7 votes was the garlic and rosemary. The tasters enjoyed the crispness of the small chunks of potato, as well as the generous amount of rosemary and garlic.
Second place went to the duck fat potatoes with 2 votes. These were both fluffy and crispy and very very rich. It was discussed that these are probably more your ‘event’ potato rather than the everyday, given their fattiness.
Last place was the whole potatoes with olive oil, with zero votes. This isn’t to say they weren’t delicious, these potatoes were also fluffy and crispy. They just didn’t have the wow factor of the duck fat.
Thanks to S for her tireless efforts and the taste testers for ingesting so many carbs!