There is something about getting the right kind of side dish that really lifts a meal from great to exceptional. These potatoes are that kind of dish! I have to say that I have become more of a potato eater in recent years, could never be bothered with the whole peeling exercise but since buying my ricer and discovering perfect mash, I have been happily peeling! I would say that potatoes mashed have to rank at the top of my list of ways to eat potato, but the method I tried tonight is going to seriously challenge that preference!
I first saw these made on Nigella's christmas special, she par-cooks the potatoes, then dredges them in semolina and roasts them in goose fat (2 cups no less!!!). Well, as good as they looked (and they look pretty damn good!) I wouldn't know where to get goose fat and 2 cups? Come on, that can't be good for you! This is why I have never bothered with roasted potatoes- not only did they all seem full of fat, but there was the whole parboiling thing, which just seemed like too much effort. I have instead always just chopped potatoes into smaller pieces, tossed in olive oil (and some herbs sometimes), given it all a good grind of salt and pepper and roasted until they are brown and crispy. Little effort, lovely result!
I did keep thinking about Nigella's potatoes though(I know, sad that I can sit and obsess about these things!) and knew I had to at least try it in some way. After my recent pantry tidy out (and discovering things like polenta was hiding in a corner) I thought I would adapt it and see how it turned out.
So I did the parboiling thing (a pain, but I was up for it!), then roughed them around in the pot to get them all fluffy on the outside (you need to have good floury potatoes to get the maximum fluffiness!). Then I tossed them in about 1/2 c of polenta ( a few at a time) and popped them into a roasting pan that had oil in it (that had gotten nice and hot in the oven for about 5 mins before). I made sure they all got coated in oil (I used ricebran oil, about 1/3 c) and then popped them back in the oven at about 220C for approx 25 mins. (There was about enough potatoes to feed 4 greedy people!).Well, they were a triumph! Really crunchy and crisp on the outside and gorgeously soft in the middle. I had slow roasted a leg of lamb and made a minted pea crush to go with it, as well as a lovely rich gravy, which the potatoes mopped up perfectly! A fabulous meal all round! I will be making these again!