Wednesday, April 15, 2009

WFMW - Crunchy Roasted Potatoes, English-style

Isaac grew up in England and LOVES the classic English roast. Unfortunately, his classic English roast involves several things that I didn't grow up cooking.

1. The Roast
In Indonesia, what beef we could get was tough and lean, so it generally went into stir fries and such, and I actually never remember having a roast until I visited Isaac's family. I'm working on learning to cook meat well, but it's a slow process. I just don't have a very good sense of HOW to keep meat tender. I am learning, though.

2. Homemade Rolls
Yeah. My mom just doesn't do homemade bread, mostly because it takes forever and she was generally busy herding around us six children and making everything else from scratch (there was no Walmart within... well, thousands of miles).

3. Gravy
Since we rarely did roasts or English food in general, I rarely had gravy growing up and had no idea how to cook it. Ok lets be honest. I really still don't have a clue, but I can follow a recipe!

4. Roasted Potatoes
Now see, American roasted potatoes are fine, see? (all examples are from flikr, they are not my photos. If you click on them you can see the photographer and their personal recipes):

Roasted Pearl Potatoes

But notice that these potatoes are moist. English-style roasted potatoes are different, and in my opinion, better. I fell in love the first time I had them because they are like fries except not deep-fried. They have a salty, crunchy exterior and the inside is soft, steaming potato. I tried roasting potatoes several times and realized that American recipes totally fail to achieve the crunch of good British roasted potatoes. This year I've finally figured it out, so I thought I'd share.

English-style Roasted Potatoes
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel and cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces (the English call their preferred type "floury potatoes" - which generally means any potato that you'd usually use for mashing or frying). Put them in a pot of cold salted water and heat to boiling. Boil for about five minutes. Drain in a colander, and then shake the colander lightly to soften the outside of the potatoes. This is what turns into the crunchy-deliciousness that Isaac and I love. Cover the bottom of a roasting pan with vegetable oil, lard, or fat from your roast. Add the potatoes and stir until they are lightly covered in oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you want to add some extra flavor, add some fresh rosemary, oregano, basil, or some balsamic vinaigrette. If you want to add variety, you can also use carrots, onions, garlic, or parsnips (which no one in America ever eats, but they rock).

Bake the potatoes until they are tender. I broil them for 10 minutes to get that extra crunch, but you have to keep your eye on them.

Crunch - see?

Roast Potatoes and Parsnips



Courtney said...

my husband loves crunchy potatoes and nothing else! great recipe will do!

Kaycee said...

Those look great. I make roasted potatoes a lot, but have never tried boiling them before. Thanks for the tip.

mub said...

Oh gosh, I need to try this! I love that crunch and haven't been able to replicate it myself! Have you tried cooking a roast in the crockpot? You can get some really good tender results that way =)