The potatoes end up light, fluffy and steaming inside, with a crunchy, golden shell that should, ideally, shatter like glass when you start to cut into it.
Roast Potatoes are absolutely required at Christmas dinner in England.
The roasting fat used can be beef dripping, lard, goose fat, chicken fat, an oil, etc. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall suggests groundnut oil with some duck fat. Heston Blumenthal suggests olive oil, but some people have observed it gives the potatoes a Mediterranean taste that is foreign to an English roast dinner. Some people think goose fat can make the potato taste more of goose than of potato. Most people prefer beef dripping.
To make roast potatoes, you peel the potatoes first, and parboil them in water for 5 to 10 minutes. Then you drain the potatoes, and shake them in the pot, with the lid on, to rough the edges. (After shaking, some people leave the potatoes in the covered pot over a burner turned on low to steam dry them for a few minutes.)
You take a tall-sided baking tray that is both oven and stove-top safe, put the fat in there, and get it searing hot. When it is, put the potatoes in, and baste them, then put the tray in the oven.
Some people say that the trick is to have the oven really really hot for them, making it hard to cook anything else at the same time. Other people say just whack them in the in oven at the same temperature as your roasting meat: if you have done the pre-heating of the fat on the stove-top, and the basting, you’ll be fine.
Roast Potatoes sadly can’t be made ahead. They will lose their outside crunch and their inner fluffiness.
You don’t want to use waxy potatoes — the kind you’d use for potato salads. You want the kind you’d use for a good mashed potato. So, you want a floury potato. In England, good potatoes to use include Desiree and Maris Piper. In North America, russets.
Some people cheat by chucking them in a deep fat fryer.
1 kg (2.2) potatoes, unpeeled = 750g (1.6 pounds), peeled = 475g (17 oz / 3 ½ cups small chunk), roasted
Frost, Vicky. Whose is the best roast potato recipe? Manchester, England: The Guardian. 17 December 2009.