Want the most perfect crispy, crunchy roast potatoes? Then you have to try my Polenta Roast Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic – polenta makes them super crunchy on the outside, whilst inside they are soft and fluffy…and deliciously flavoured with garlic and rosemary…and of course, as you’d expect from me, they are super easy to make!
I LOVE roast potatoes…I make them often and nearly always use the same recipe…a foolproof roast potato recipe that I know off by heart and that I know always goes down really well with my family.
But this year, with Christmas approaching, I fancied taking my usual recipe up a notch and making my roast potatoes super crisp and crunchy…and the best way to do that? POLENTA!!
Using polenta is such an easy way to give your roast potatoes the wow factor! Simply par-boil the potatoes, drain and leave to steam dry in the pan for 5 minutes, then tip over the polenta, put on the lid and shake like crazy…like magic the polenta will evenly coat all the potatoes (and you’ll make some nice rough edges in the process). After this, simply put the potatoes in a roasting pan with olive oil and roast for 1 hour at 220C…et voilà – perfect roast potatoes, with very little effort – my kind of recipe!!
To add extra flavour I put a few bashed up cloves of garlic in the tray with the roasties, together with some herbs – you can use whatever herbs you like – rosemary, thyme, bay, oregano, mixed herbs and herbes de Provence all work well, but my favourite has to be rosemary – rosemary and garlic is such a delicious combination, don’t you think?
Of course these Polenta Roast Potatoes are not just for Christmas – they would be perfect with your Sunday roast…or even for a midweek treat!
The best potatoes for perfect roast potatoes
Having tried a variety of potatoes for roast potatoes, I do think the best kind of potatoes for making perfect roasties are the fluffy, floury kind, such as Maris Pipers or King Edwards. However, if you can’t get hold of them, or the budget is tight this year, the ordinary large white potatoes, typically sold as baking potatoes or simply ‘white potatoes’, are perfectly fine in this recipe for Polenta Roast Potatoes.
The best fat for perfect roast potatoes
It is certainly true that duck fat and goose fat make delicious roast potatoes and will work very well in this recipe, however my favourite fat for roast potatoes has to be olive oil – I find it makes for a slightly crunchier roast potato, and together with the rosemary and garlic, gives a wonderful Italian flavour to the potatoes, it’s also something I always have to hand, so it’s one less thing I need to remember to buy!
The right temperature for roast potatoes
One of the reasons roast potatoes end up soggy, rather than crisp and crunchy, is that they are cooked at too low a temperature. To get them just right, I have found they need to be cooked at 220C / 200C fan / gas mark 7. This can be a problem if you have, say, a roast turkey in the oven, which needs to be cooked at a lower temperature. My easy peasy solution is to simply turn the oven up for the last 30 minutes of the turkey cooking time (If you follow my Easy Roast Turkey Crown recipe, this will result in perfectly cooked turkey with lovely crispy skin) and then continue cooking the roast potatoes for a further 30 minutes (1 hour in total) while the turkey rests.
Other great tips for perfect roast potatoes…
My three best tips, apart from those above, is to make sure the roast potatoes have enough room – they should all be in one layer in a roasting tray with a small amount of space around them – if they are on top of each other they won’t roast properly. If necessary use 2 trays, rather tham trying to fit them all in the one tin. Another great tip is to make sure you have the oil really hot before you put the roast potatoes into the roasting tray. And my final tip for roast potato perfection is to baste the potatoes once or twice during the cooking – if you are busy, this is not essential, but it will result in a more crispy and more evenly cooked potato if you can find the time.
How many roast potatoes per person?
Well that does rather depend on the person and how big their appetite is! Not to mention how many other dishes you are serving. But if you are serving roast potatoes as part of a roast dinner (or Christmas dinner), a good rule of thumb is 200-250g per person…but do remember children will usually eat less.
How big to cut the roast potatoes?
I am always quite annoyed by the way other recipes for roast potatoes say things like…’cut the potatoes into large chunks’ – what does that mean??? Or even worse ‘cut the potatoes into thirds’…have you seen a bag of potatoes? They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – thirds would not work for all of them! My top tip is to cut them into 50g pieces…don’t weigh each one (unless you are a serious perfectionist!) – just weigh the first one and then try to make the others roughly the same size.
Why so much oil?
Usually when I cook roast potatoes, I don’t use loads of oil – if you use too much you can actually end up with rather soggy potatoes…however with polenta roast potatoes, things are rather different…the polenta absorbs the oil like crazy, so you need to make sure you have enough oil or some of the roast potatoes won’t get any…I realise this means that this then isn’t perhaps the most healthy roast potato recipe…but for Christmas and the occasional treat, I think that’s OK, don’t you? 😉
Polenta Roast Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic
- 1.5 kg Maris Piper, King Edward or other large white potatoes peeled and cut into chunks (roughly 50g/2oz each)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 100 g polenta or coarsely ground cornmeal
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 garlic cloves whole but lightly bashed to split the skins
- 4 sprigs rosemary plus extra for garnish
- Place the potato chunks in a large saucepan and cover with boiling water. Put on the hob and cook for exactly 12 minutes on a high heat.
- Meanwhile put the oil in a very large roasting tray (or 2 smaller ones) and put the tray in your oven. If the oven is not already on, preheat to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7/425F.
- Drain the potatoes and put them back in the saucepan. Leave to steam dry for 5 minutes, then add the polenta, plus a little salt and pepper on top of the potatoes. Put the lid on and shake the pan to rough up the edges, and evenly distribute the polenta and seasoning.
- Tip the potatoes into the roasting tray, taking care not to splash yourself with hot fat, and turn the potatoes in the oil to coat them. Cook the potatoes for a total of 1 hour.
- After the first 30 minutes get the potatoes out and add the garlic and rosemary, then spoon the hot fat over the potatoes to baste them. Return the potatoes to the oven for the final 30 minutes.
- After a total of 1 hour remove the potatoes from the oven and serve garnished with extra rosemary.
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