Potato arrived to Europe in 16th century and was at first named tartuffli – earth truffles. As a matter of fact French still call it pomme de terre – earth apples. Potatoes had a slow start on Europeans tables. The French were convinced that they were responsible for leprosy, Scottish Protestants did not like them because they were not mentioned in the Bible. This humble vegetable had to wait until mid eighteen century to become widespread. Today it is hard to imagine our menus without spuds, especially chips. And everyone loves potato chips, right? Not everyone likes deep fried food though. So what can you do if for example you would like to serve a nice grilled fish with chips style potatoes? Simply roast them! I know, roasted potatoes are not chips. I am not daft. But this way you can serve potatoes that are crispy on the outside, fluffy in the middle and as a bonus flavoured to your preference. All this with just few splashes of oil instead of deep frying. My family loves this dish. If you ask my wife how she wants her potatoes served I can bet the answer will be roasted. What’s even better it is very simple. All you need to do is to chop the spuds, mix them with oil and flavourings and bake. I do not pre cook my potatoes as I believe that some of their flavour escapes into cooking water. Just make sure that you buy good quality floury potatoes. My personal preference is Desiree but Maris Piper works very well too.
Equipment required: a large deep roasting tray. I used cast iron but roasting tin or even ovenproof earthenware or glass will work.
- 8 – 12 medium size potatoes, washed or peeled. Depending on the potatoes size and menu I use 2 or 3 potatoes per adult.
- 6 garlic cloves
- About 1 tblsp of fresh thyme leaves
- 100g of frying fat. Most often I use rapeseed oil but if I want a bit of extra luxury I replace it with goose fat or beef dripping.
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- Pre heat the oven to 220 centigrade
- Pour the oil into the roasting tray. If you use solid fat put the tray in the oven for 5 minutes to melt it.
- Gently press garlic coves with the side of your knife’s blade to partially crush them. Leave the skins on. Place the garlic in the oiled roasting tray. Add thyme leaves and seasoning.
- Chop the potatoes into 2cm chunks, skins on. You can peel the potatoes but I find that leaving the skin gives better flavour.
- Transfer the chopped potatoes into the roasting tray and mix well with your hands so that they are all well coated with the oil. If the tray has been heated up use a large spoon instead of your hands.
- Place the tray in the middle of pre heated oven and roast for about 1 hour. Every 15 – 20 minutes take the tray out and mix the potatoes around with a spoon so that they remain well coated with the oil and not stuck to the bottom of the baking tray.
- When the potatoes are deep golden browned take the tray out and serve immediately. The potatoes will be coloured unevenly but that is the desired effect.
Tip: You can change flavouring subject to menu requirements. I find thyme flavoured potatoes to work well with white fish. Replace thyme with rosemary if you serve the potatoes with lamb. Alternatively replace the thyme with paprika if you serve it with spicier dishes such as chicken and chorizo for example.