The alkaline environment created by boiling the potatoes with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) helps break down the pectin that holds the potato cells together. That in turn gives the potatoes a crispier texture after roasting. You can take this basic recipe in any number of directions (see Tips).
1 kg red new potatoes (or other new potatoes), washed but unpeeled
1 tsp sodium bicarbonate
½ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
flake salt, to season
- Heat your oven to 200C fan. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with tap water. Add the sodium bicarbonate and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes until a small, sharp knife can be inserted and withdrawn easily. Drain the potatoes and allow to stand for about 5 minutes to steam dry.
- Place a sheet of baking paper into a roasting tray and add about ¼ cup of olive oil onto the baking paper. Place some of the potatoes on top and with a cooking weight or the bottom of a small saucepan, squash the potatoes to about 2cm thick. You can put a piece of baking paper between the base of the saucepan and the potatoes while you squash them if you want to keep the base of the saucepan clean. Repeat the process with more potatoes until the roasting tray is full in a single layer. Season with a little salt and drizzle with a little extra oil. Repeat for a second tray of potatoes.
- Place into the oven. If one tray has more potatoes than the other, put that one on top. Roast for about 40 minutes until the potatoes are browned and crisp and look like they do in the photo. Depending on your oven one tray may take longer than another. Just remove each tray when it’s done.
- To serve, tip one tray of potatoes onto the other and then place the whole sheet of baking paper into a serving bowl. Season with extra salt and trim away the excess baking paper. Serve, and wait for your guests to say “Those are extremely good roast potatoes.”
- You can use other potatoes, or even large potatoes that are cut into smaller chunks. You can peel the potatoes if you want, but I think they have a better flavour and texture if you don’t peel them.
- Instead of olive oil, you can also use vegetable oil, animal fats (like lard or duck fat), butter or ghee.
- Add whole cloves of garlic, herbs or other flavourings if you like, but this is a good basic recipe for you to riff off.