Prize roast potatoes
In the December issue, we asked you to send us your ultimate roast potato recipes for the chance to win some brilliant prizes, including a Smeg oven. Queens of the Sainsbury's magazine test kitchen Emma and Jenna spent several days cooking up all the entries, and I'm pretty sure I gained several pounds tasting them all. After much carb gorging, the finalists were chosen – Nicki Rawson from Southampton, Becky Finnigan from Liverpool, Amee Ryan from Woking and Lynette Collins from Birmingham.
They joined us this week for the roast tattie cook-off grand final, which was judged by Marcus Verberne, head chef at Roast restaurant in Borough Market, Julien Roberts, the potato buyer at Sainsbury's, and me.
The finalists had the choice of using King Edward or Maris Piper potatoes. Nicki roasted hers with herbs and smoked paprika, Becky's spuds were cooked in goose fat with garlic and rosemary, Amee opted for garlic, olive oil and thyme and Lynette followed her nan's recipe, adding a touch of lemon juice to the blanching water.
Having munched our way through the roasties, Marcus gave the four hopefuls some feedback and his own top tips for roasting the perfect potato (see below).
And the winner was... Lynette! We can see why her nan's recipe has been passed down. She won the stylish Smeg oven and all four finalists are soon to be treated to a cookery demonstration and lunch at Roast.
MARCUS'S TOP TIPS FOR PERFECT ROAST POTATOES
- Use Maris Piper, King Edward or Yukon gold potatoes.
- Blanch the potatoes until the edges just start to break up, then drain the potatoes and shake them in a colander to rough up the edges ¬– this will make them extra crispy.
- Use plenty of fat to cook your potatoes (beef dripping is great if you're having beef for Sunday lunch). The fat should be sizzling hot when the potatoes are added to the roasting tin.
- Turn each potato in the hot fat so they're coated all over – this will ensure they cook evenly.
- Drain your roasties on kitchen paper before tipping them into a warm serving dish.
- And Marcus's special twist? Add whole garlic cloves (skin on), lemon wedges and a generous sprinkle of sea salt for the final 10-15 minutes of roasting.
LYNETTE'S WINNING RECIPE
- 1kg King Edward potatoes
- juice of ½ lemon
- 3 generous spoonfuls of duck fat
- a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Maldon sea salt flakes
- Preheat the oven to 220°C, fan 200°C, gas 7.
- Peel the potatoes, chop them into large chunks and place in a pan with 2 tablespoons of salt and the lemon juice; cover the potatoes with water.
- Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and give them a good shake to fluff them up.
- Meanwhile, put the duck fat in a roasting tray and pop the tray in the oven to heat.
- Once the fat is hot and spitting, add the potatoes, being very careful to avoid the hot fat (use oven gloves).
- Scatter a few sprigs of rosemary over the potatoes.
- Roast for 20 minutes, then give the potatoes a good shake.
- Roast for a further 20 minutes, give them another shake, then continue to roast until crisp and golden on the outside and light and fluffy in the middle.
- Sprinkle with sea salt flakes to serve.