Nigella’s Christmas Feast: Delicious roast potatoes

There are three crucial things that I think make the difference here: the first is the heat of the fat – if it’s not searingly hot, you don’t stand a chance, and since goose fat has a very high smoking point and tastes good, it is my annual choice. The second is the size of your potatoes – you want them relatively small, so that the ratio of crunchy outside to fluffy interior is optimised. Finally, dredging the potatoes – and this is a family practice, inherited through the maternal line – in semolina rather than flour after parboiling, then rattling the pan around to make the potatoes a bit mashed on the surface so they catch more in the hot fat, is a major aid. Roast potatoes can be made vegan by roasting them in vegetable oil or solid vegetable fat.

SERVES 10-16 for Christmas, and 8-10 if it is not

2 x 320g jars goose fat

2.25kg potatoes such as King Edward

2 tbsp semolina

  • Heat the oven to 250C/230C fan/gas 9. If you don’t have a double oven, you will have to do this as soon as the turkey is out of your single oven, which, for me, is very much later than the parboiling stage.
  • Put the fat into a large roasting tin then into the oven to heat up, and get frighteningly hot – 20-30 minutes should do it.
  • Cut the potato into 3 pieces. Make sure you cut off the ends at an angle so there is a triangle or wedge in the middle.
  • Place the potatoes in salted and cold water in an saucepan. Let them boil for four minutes.
  • Put the potatoes into a colander and then place them in an empty saucepan.
  • You can shake the potatoes to coat them. Then, close the lid and give the pan another spin. Finally, you should give the potatoes some pounding so their edges are blurred and fuzzy. At this point, I let them rest. If you don’t, you’ll need to have preheated the oven earlier!
  • After the fat has melted, gently tip the potato semolina-coated in butter into the pan.
  • If the oven’s hot enough, they may well not need more than about 25 minutes a side; but it’s better to let them sit in the oven (you can always pour off most of the fat) till the very last minute.
  • After everything has been served, put the potatoes on a large and warm serving platter.

Make a plan. Peel the potatoes the day before. Put the whole potato in cold water and place it in a cool, dry area. Drain and cut the meat. Cover it with salt water and heat to make parboil. Then, roast according to instructions.