After we purchased Heston Blumenthal at home we made his roasted potatoes several times with great success. His method is to first run water over the potatoes for 15 minutes to remove the starch and then boil the potatoes until they are nearly falling apart. Next you dry the spuds and roast them for 1½ hours. True, it sounds like a lot of work for roasted potatoes, but these really were the best we’ve ever had — very crisp on the outside and deliciously tender on the inside.
Not long afterward, we read an article about how Michelin-starred, Dublin-based chef Kevin Thornton makes chips (as they call fries in Ireland). He vacuum seals the potatoes in salted water and steams them before frying them twice. The result is that the salt penetrates the potatoes perfectly and there’s no need to add salt to the finished dish.
We tried Thornton’s method but cooked the potatoes sous vide rather than steaming them and the chips were great. However, it was a lot of work to fry the potatoes twice at two different temperatures.
So we thought, why not use his method for the initial cooking in Heston’s roasted potato recipe. Not only is it easier than the chip recipe, you use a small amount of olive oil versus a lot of sunflower oil. We tried it and are very pleased with the results of our hybrid. Crisp exterior, tender interior, and just the right amount of salt in every bite. Be sure not to add salt to the finished potatoes before tasting them!
Serves 2 to 3 (only 2 at our house, but we do live in Ireland)
- Preheat the water bath to 210°F (99°C).
- Rinse the cubed potatoes under cold water to remove surface starch. Soak for 15 minutes in cold water, changing the water every 5 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and transfer to a large zip-lock food bag. Combine the water and salt in a bowl and add to the bag with the potatoes. Seal using the water displacement method.
- Cook for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat a conventional oven to 375°F (190°C). Add ⅛ inch of olive oil to a roasting pan and place in the hot oven for 15 minutes before adding the potatoes.
- Remove the potatoes from the bag, discarding the liquid, and pat dry with a clean, lint-free kitchen towel or layers of paper towels.
- Add the potatoes to the hot oil and roast in the conventional oven for 1 to 1½ hours, turning every 20 minutes, until nicely browned.
- Transfer the potatoes to a layer of paper towels on a plate and they are ready to serve. Don’t add salt before tasting, as the salt used in cooking them should provide all the seasoning they need.