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Perfect Roast Potatoes

The amounts here are not vital because it depends on who's greedy and who is on a diet and so on, but I find that 8 oz (225 g) per person is enough – yielding three each and a few extras for inevitable second helpings! I like Desirée best of all, but my second choice would be Romano.

 
 
 Perfect Roast Potatoes

  Serves 8

Ingredients
 4 lb (1.8 kg) Desirée potatoes
 4 oz (110 g) dripping or lard
 salt
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).
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Equipment
You will also need a shallow solid-based roasting tray 16 x 12 inches (40 x 30 cm).

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection. It has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine (Oct 1993).

Method

First place the roasting tray with the fat in it on the highest shelf of the oven while it pre-heats. Thinly peel the potatoes using a potato peeler, then cut them into fairly even-sized pieces, leaving the small ones whole. Then place them in a saucepan, pour over boiling water from a kettle, just to cover, then add salt and simmer for about 10 minutes. After that lift one out with a skewer and see if the outer edge is fluffy. You can test this by running the point of the skewer along the surface – if it stays smooth, give it a few more minutes.

Then drain off the water, reserving some for the gravy. Place the lid back on the saucepan, and, holding the lid on firmly with your hand protected by a cloth or oven glove, shake the saucepan vigorously up and down. This shaking roughens up the cooked edges of the potato and makes them floury and fluffy – this is the secret of the crunchy edges.

Now, still using the oven glove to protect your hands, remove the hot roasting tray containing its sizzling fat and transfer to the direct heat (medium) on the hob. Then use a long-handled spoon and quickly lower the potatoes into the hot fat. When they are all in, tilt the tray and baste each one so it's completely coated with fat. 

Now place them back on the highest shelf of the oven and leave them unattended for 40-50 minutes or until they are golden brown. There's no need to turn them over at half-time – they will brown evenly by themselves. 

Sprinkle them with a little crushed salt before serving straight away; they lose their crunch if you keep them waiting. If they're ready before you are, turn the oven off and leave them inside.

 

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