'Tis the season to be roasting...
You’d think, having published my 12-step roastie program two years ago, followed by last year’s investigation of the best spud for the roastie job, that when this Christmas rolled around, I’d really have no more to say on the subject of roast potatoes for the big day. I might even have thought as much myself but, as it turns out, both you and I were wrong. I realised as much last Monday morning, as I was listening to the John Murray Show on RTE Radio One.
Brenda Costigan, longtime cookery writer, was a guest on the show and some listeners has asked for her tips on roast potatoes, as you do at this time of year. What followed was something I certainly didn’t expect, because she suggested that you could prepare your roasties ahead of time and freeze them.
The idea fairly stopped me in my tracks, because I’ve just never thought that a spell in the freezer did a cooked potato any favours. I somehow imagined that roasting a spud that had been previously frozen was a recipe for sogginess, but there was only one way to be sure – a taste-off between potatoes cooked, frozen and roasted the Brenda way and my own freshly prepared version. I donned my roastie lab coat and went, once again, into investigative action.
What would you do if you had just one spud?
Would you boil it, steam it or mash it? Bake it, fry it or roast it?
Perhaps you’d chunk it up for salad or layer it into a gratin.
Or go the deep fat fryer route and turn it into crisps or chips.
It’s one of those desert island questions (albeit a desert island that comes, it would have to be said, with a fully equipped kitchen).
And the desert island answer? For me, without hesitation, the potato would have to be baked.
One potato, baked
Good grief, you hardly thought I would let Christmas go by without tackling the subject of roasties, now, did you?
Proper roast potatoes. It just ain't Christmas dinner without 'em.
Though I may have spouted on at some length on the topic of roast potatoes last year, my 12-step roastie program didn’t really address the question of how our most popular potato varieties stack up when it comes to roasting. I’m here today to fix that.
Inspired somewhat by last year’s piece in the Guardian Word of Mouth blog which compared three varieties of British potato, roasted using formulae from four well-known chefs, I loosened my belt and set about the task of roasting several different kinds of Irish spud.
Step one was a trip to my local fruit-and-veg emporium… Continue reading