Forget the hassle of the hasselback or the time-consuming triple-cooking method. When it comes to roast potatoes, Heston Blumenthal keeps it simple. Here are of his 10 tattie tips.
1. 'Roast potatoes wait for no one'
Step aside roast dinner. Blumenthal insists that when the potatoes are ready, everything else needs to be ready. Accompanying veg can be pre-cooked and reheated at the last minute, while Blumenthal says you can rest a roast chicken for a minimum of 45 minutes: "It's surprising how it keeps its heat, and it will be more moist and juicy." At 180C, roast potatoes can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes, and "always take longer than you imagine. Always."
2. Choose your variety
Blumenthal prefers an Arran Victory or Maris Piper potato, but concedes that Australia has fewer varieties available. "The most important thing is the dry matter. You want a dry, floury potato, not a waxy one."
3. Size 'em up
Make a judgement call when cutting a potato, but an avocado-sized potato could be cut into eight pieces. Remember: the more flat edges, the better. "Worst of all is just a round potato, because with a round potato, you haven't got any corners and edges to get crisp."
4. Goodbye starch
Put the potatoes in a saucepan and leave the cold tap running for five minutes or so. "The water will turn milky as the starch comes out and then it will go clear."
5. Take it to the limit
Pop the potatoes straight into simmering water. "When we talk about par-boiling – it's actually not par-boiling. Cook them until they're just about to fall apart, but not so much that they become potato soup."
6. Be gentle
"When you dry them, you've got to be delicate." To avoid ending up with mash, use a slotted spoon to transport the boiled potatoes from pot to colander.
Once they've steamed dry, the cracks will open up, exposing the "vital" rough bits. "If you've cooked them enough, they should do it themselves. If they haven't, rough them up a bit with a fork."
Blumenthal says "trendy" duck or goose fat gives good results, but if you want your potatoes to go "really, really crispy" use beef dripping – his favourite. Note: if using fat you need to render it. "Fat doesn't go into a potato unless there's a crack. And for the crust, it's all the [fat] going into the little cracks that give the potato the really sort of glass-like, juicy crust."
As for oil, Blumenthal uses either peanut oil (substitute for canola oil if you have a nut allergy) or olive oil, either plain or a cheap extra-virgin.
"Be very generous with the oil in the pan. Because you've made all those cracks, and you want the oil to go into all those fissures."
Coat the potatoes in the oil (or fat, if using) and turn two or three times during roasting. "The cut surfaces, the flat ones, are going to give you that real crisp crust."
Hold off on adding rosemary and garlic to prevent it from burning. "The easiest thing is to smash the garlic and chuck that in with the rosemary 10 minutes before the end."
Blumenthal advises against seasoning the cooking water, as he finds this can cause a chewy potato. Instead, sprinkle the potatoes with table salt after roasting and serve with flaked salt at the table for extra crunch.
Heston Week airs this week on MasterChef Australia, Sunday to Thursday, 7.30pm on TEN.