How to make award-winning roast potatoes

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. So without further ado:

Mmm.

MMM.

Can’t you just taste them?

We’re very proud of our roast potatoes, and we put a lot of time, effort and thought into perfecting our approach – so we’re delighted by the continual rave reviews and lovely feedback we get for our Sunday lunch service. 

We’re also very proud of the multiple Observer Food Monthly accolades we’ve received for our roasts: mainly because these are voted for by readers and diners. They’ve just opened nominations again for this year – so if our photos made you nod your head in recognition and you’ve enjoyed feasting with us, we’d love it if you could find the time to drop our name into the hat.

Anyway. Enough talk: more ‘taters…

You might have seen our cheeky experiment with Facebook Live, where Alex walked you through the process of perfecting a potato: if not, you can stop reading now, click the photo below, and hop over to Facebook to watch our chef explain everything. Don't worry: we'll still be here when you get back.

To make award winning roast potatoes you first need to get the right spud. You’re looking for a floury potato – King Edwards, Maris Pipers – and you’ll need a potato about the size of your fist to be able to break it down into two-bite-size chunks.

Interestingly, though potatoes are omnipresent in our shops and supermarkets, there is actually a season for them which ends as summer begins: out of season potatoes are a lot smaller than their compatriots, which just means you’ll be doing a lot of peeling.

Suffice to say we do a lot of peeling at the Hole in the Wall. We also reckon you know how to peel a potato. So we’re not going there.

Cut your potato up into two or three pieces. 

You then want to par boil the potatoes, in a big pan, in cold salty water that’s “almost as salty as sea water, but not quite as salty as pasta water”. 

Start them out in cold water, as this means they cook evenly from the outside in. Clever!

Now, watch them like a hawk. You can probably leave them unattended for about ten or so minutes, but all this depends on the size of your pot, the number of potatoes you’re cooking – and the last thing you want is to end up with mash, or worse: potato soup.

When they offer a knife a little resistance but are mainly done, whip them out of the water, spread them out evenly on a baking tray and leave them to cool. This is a good point to pop them into the fridge if you’re doing them in advance.

At this stage, you also want to rough them up a little bit. Knock them around in the tray, give them a bit of a shake: if you’ve cooked them enough, their edges should start flufferising and flaking before your eyes. This is also the point at which you’ll find out if you’ve made mash, rather than roasties. A dangerous crossroads.

When you’re ready to start roasting – normally at the point where the meat comes out of the oven to rest (a whole other blog post) – get a roasting tray, spread out your spuds and drizzle them in cold rapeseed oil.

Yep, not duck fat, not goose fat, not dripping: although these are all delicious routes to roast potatoes, we serve ours dressed in Cotswold Gold rapeseed oil. It’s British-made, it’s sustainable and what’s more, it’s vegetarian-friendly – so our veggie chums can enjoy a bowl of our roasties with their Sunday feast.

Your oven should be at about 180°C for the roasting session, and you’re looking at around 40 minutes – but again, this’ll vary on the amount of potatoes you’re cooking, so be mindful.

You want them to cook evenly, so turn them regularly while cooking: a one-sided roast potato is a sad beast.

Sprinkle with a little salt and serve them immediately: best dipped into gravy and consumed while ever so slightly too hot to handle.

Delicious.

If you try them for yourself, please show us by tagging us in on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram – and if you have any questions, just shout! Of course there is an easier way to get your hands on these prize potatoes: simply book yourself in for a Sunday lunch feast...

PS: If you've enjoyed this post and our roast potatoes in the past, the OFM voting page is this way. Much, much appreciated!