- 5.5 oz lard (or drippings; 3 T)
- 3 lb potatoes (Ambo, King Edwards, Desiree, or Romano)
- salt (to taste)
- gravy (for serving)
1. Place the fat in a good solid-based, shallow roasting tin measuring 14 x 11 x ¾ inches (35 x 28 x 2 cm), and put it on the highest shelf of the oven while it pre-heats to 425F/220C/Gas 7.
2. Thinly peel the potatoes, then cut them into fairly even-sized wedges (we like ours 8-10cm long by 2-3cm wide), leaving any small potatoes whole. Place them in a saucepan, pour over boiling water from a kettle, just to cover, add plenty of salt, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the outer edges are fluffy. (To test this, lift one out and run the point of a skewer along the surface – if it still seems too smooth, give it a few more minutes). You're only parcooking the potatoes at this stage, so don't cook them too long.
3. When the potatoes are ready, drain off the water. Place the lid back on the saucepan then, holding the lid firmly, shake the saucepan up and down.
4. Remove the hot roasting tin containing its sizzling fat and transfer it to the direct heat (medium) on the hob. Use a long-handled spoon to quickly lower the potatoes into the hot fat. When they are all in, tilt the tray and baste each one so it's completely coated with fat.
5. Place the pan back on the highest shelf of the oven and leave them unattended for 30-50 minutes (depending on how big you cut them; ours take 35-40 min, and the oven is opened a few times in that to deal with the Yorkshire puddings), until they are golden brown. There's no need to turn them over at half time – they will brown evenly by themselves. Sprinkle them with a little crushed salt before serving.
Notes from source: Regarding shaking the parcooked potatoes: What you are trying to achieve here is to roughen up the cooked edges of the potatoes and then make them floury and fluffy – this is the secret of the crunchy edges. In step 4: coating each wedge seals them immediately and prevents them sticking and becoming greasy, which is what happens when the fat is not hot enough.
SJ Note 13 Aug 2010: These are excellent! There are just a few English foods I do quite like, and properly done roast potatoes are one of them; these certainly fill the bill. Be sure to remember to serve gravy with these!
SJ Note 19 Mar 2012: We've had these several times now; perfecting them is a labor of love. I've rewritten the recipe to be less wordy, and easier to read in the throes of cooking; I've also added dimensions, because how big you cut them has a huge impact on how long they need to be cooked for. How much fat you need will depend on your pan; we need a bit more because the only suitable one we have raises a bit in the middle. You won't consume all that fat, nowhere near, so don't panic.