Friday, 21 December 2012

Google Plus the Cooking!

Who's cooking in their Kitchen?

Christmas period coming up and I am starting to get back to the lifestyle blog.  Small potatoes it may seem can have many uses (  The traditional use of the potato at the time of year is the Roast Potato for Christmas day lunch/dinner.   There are many debates over what makes the best roast potato  Obviously not the specimens of Arran (pictured left) grown in my own garden this year since this is a first early variety. 

How to find out the best way of preparing and cooking the best Roast Potatoes is a bit of a challenge!  Looking through +Natalie Villalobos's Google Plus posts I came across this link to Thanksgiving Google Hangouts  Similar idea to Christmas, Turkey and as many different types of root and tuber vegetables mashed, bashed, diced and roasted.  Be interesting to see this Hangout in action could be a whole new slant on the televisual Come Dine with Me experience.  

So what does make the best roast potato? Answers and comments would be appreciated!  Here are some of thoughts on the solution.

  • The potato itself, which variety to choose?  In the UK we have red and white in most supermarkets.  You do often get told the variety on the bag but sometimes just the generic red and white description.  Many years ago I did my Masters Research at the Scottish Crop Research Institute  near Dundee.  This august body like the way of many things in the UK has been amalgamated and technically does not exist any more. The SCRI has been responsible for many varieties of potato (and soft fruits) including the Pentland Series of varieties.  A potato with a light fluffy texture is needed for roasting, so even though there are some great potatoes bred in Scotland the UK favourite is still King Edward .

  • Parboil or place straight in? Definitely par boil!

  • How to get the crispness on the outside of the potato?   Once the potato has been parboiled there are two ways advocated  for producing crispness.  The first is to coat the potato in a little flour.  The second is to slightly roughen the outside of the potato by gently shaking them in a colander (my preferred method).  

  • The cooking!  You can pre-heat the oven and a dish containing some vegetable oil, dripping (beef dripping can still be bought) or goose fat.  Vegetable oil can also be used over the top of the potatoes placed in a cold dish before going into the oven.  This does reduce the danger of hot oil splash but does "fry" the outside of the potatoes as you would do if placed in hot fat or oil.  The external colour develops better using hot oil better than the cold method.   
There is a definite science to the perfect Roast Potato with many factors that can cause a poor roast potato.  Although most people after champagne or sherry (a good fino in straight ) on Christmas morning may not appreciate the subtlety considering the amount of food they will consume!  Hopefully somebody bought them a gym pass for the new year!

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