Niki Bezzant spent several weeks – and many oven hours – researching the roast potato methods of famous cooks, local foodies and Facebook friends. She tells us what she learned.
Niki's key findings:
1. Agria is king. You can't get perfect roasties without using the perfect potato for the job. Agria is a floury potato, grown for roasting or mashing. Its soft yellow flesh becomes fluffy and tender in the oven. Don't go near 'all purpose' potatoes or potatoes that say they're good for salads or boiling. That will only lead to disappointment.
2. Parboiling definitely makes a difference to exterior crunch. Even cooking for 5 minutes softens the outside surface of the spuds, meaning they can be tossed around to create a rough surface that, when combined with oil and heat, becomes crunchier than a non-parboiled potato. If you can be bothered, this is a step worth taking.
3. You don't need too much oil. I didn't even go down the duck or goose fat road, since these are not a typical feature of most kitchens. If that's your bag, knock yourself out. Or let the potatoes do it for you. But I found a thin coating of olive oil was all I needed. Preheating the oil made marginal difference in my experiments.
4. For extra credit, a little sprinkle of flour does seem to create more crispy crunch and it takes no time to do.
5. Skins on or off is a personal preference thing. I think they're a nice texture and it probably makes your roasties a bit healthier.
6. Salt is your friend. Obviously the less salt, the healthier. But potatoes love salt and it makes the overall roastie experience that bit more perfect.
7. As with all cooking, don't get too hung up about achieving perfection. I can confidently say that the only rule you really need to follow here is the first one. If you do that, whatever else you do, all roasties are good roasties.
You can see some of Niki's attempts on her blog .