After my vegan Caesar salad dressing photo last week, I was inundated with requests for a recipe. A recipe for those crispy Kipfler potatoes. This got me thinking: while I have shared my tips for crispy chips, my method for crispy potatoes in general remains undiscussed. Friends, I will take any excuse to chat about potatoes. Particularly when they’re golden, salty, crispy Kipfler potatoes.
THE CRISPY KIPFLER POTATOES CHEAT SHEET
- Boil the potatoes, and boil them in heavily salted water. This creates fluffy, well flavoured potato interiors.
- Don’t be afraid to rough them up a little as you cut them. Craggy edges create crispy potatoes.
- Once you’ve salted the boiling water, don’t salt them again until the very end.
- Preheat the oven and preheat the oil. Dropping potatoes into hot oil creates a super crispy crust right from the get-go.
- Don’t overcrowd the potatoes or the oven. Overcrowding = steam = soggy potatoes that are covered in oil.
- Be patient with oven time, and turn them to crisp up all sides. You can’t put a timer on the perfect potato.
- Salt them as soon as you take them out of the oven. While they’re still hot they will cling onto salt much better than a cooled variety.
- Roast potatoes do not wait. They deteriorate (although are still delicious) quickly, so eat them fresh out of the oven.
FIRST STEP – BOILING YOUR POTATOES
After you’ve scrubbed your Kipflers, it’s time to boil them. Needless to say, it doesn’t need to be a Kipfler if you can’t find them. See this post for some other good potato varieties.
While some people parboil and finish the potatoes off in the oven, I like to completely cook my potatoes. Like, cook the crap out of them. Every potato is a different size, so it takes the guesswork out of what constitutes parboiled. It also means the potatoes are perfectly fluffy inside, and that all the oven needs to do is crisp the hell out of them.
To parboil your potatoes, place them, completely covered in very well salted water, over a medium high heat. There’s no exact timing for this process – it all depends on the size of the potato, how full your pot is – any number of variables. Be patient and let the potatoes cook completely. A knife should slide through even the potato that got the least heat. Gently move them around in the water if some aren’t cooked while some are falling apart.
SALTING YOUR POTATO COOKING WATER
Onto the most important aspect of this part of your potato journey – the salting of the water. I am a diehard potato fan but even I can admit – the flavour of potatoes is subtle (not bland! I’d never say bland!) Because of this, the salting of the water is so integral. Very well salted water will flavour the potatoes from the inside out – every bite will be well seasoned and flavourful. Chemically, salt brings out flavours in food, which is why it’s so important.
What constitutes well salted water? Water that tastes like the ocean. Have a look at how Bon Appetit salt their water, if you need a visual (although keep in mind that they use kosher salt – table salt is more potent, if you’re using that.) Here’s a link to their guide to salting pasta water, which is a similar idea. I realise that they say no table salt, but I’m realistic – some people (including me) use it for things like pasta water.
I promise that even if you baulk at the salt being added, the final result isn’t heavy on salt – just perfectly flavoured. You drain a lot of the salt off in the boiling water, anyway.
PREHEATING THE OVEN (AND THE OIL)
Once your potatoes are done, it’s time to strain them and allow them to steam dry. Steam drying is basically just the potatoes drying off in their own heat – you don’t need to do anything here, except preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, or 400 Fahrenheit.
By now the potatoes should have cooled off just enough for you to handle them. Cut them as you see fit, and don’t be afraid to smush them up just a little – craggy edges = extra crispiness. Some people like to shake them up in a pot after cutting for extra crag. I noticed that using a cerrated knife on very well cooked potatoes gave them some extra roughness.
I like to cut my Kipflers on a sharp angle so that as much potato flesh as possible touches the tray. They also look fancy which is an added bonus.
Next up, the most important part of this bit – preheating the oil. Preheating the oil is responsible for creating a shattering crisp crust upon the potatoes’ entry into the oven. It ensures that the potato begins to crispy immediately, as opposed to soaking up oil. If you put the potatoes into the oven on a cold oven tray with cold oil, your spuds won’t be nearly as crispy.
I like to preheat my oil for 10 or so minutes, and then, working quickly, remove the oven tray and gently place the potatoes in the oil. It’s important to give them room and not overcrowd the pan – this will result in less crispy potatoes. It’s also important not to cook anything else in the oven while doing the potatoes. Too much food in the oven will create steam, which is the enemy of crispiness.
It’s a good idea to quickly baste the tops of the potatoes in the hot oil before returning them to the oven – this will prevent tough, dry potato tops. Make sure this is all a quick process so the oil doesn’t drop in temperature too much.
ANOTHER NOTE ON SALT
After salting the potatoes in the boiling water, don’t salt them again until the end of the cooking process. Salt draws out liquid and moisture, which can have two negative effects here. Firstly, drawing moisture out during the roasting process will result in a drier than necessary potato. Secondly, that moisture can create steam, which will hinder the crisping process. So, no salt until the end, please.
WHICH OIL TO USE?
People have different suggestions as to which oil is best for crispy roasted potatoes. Because they’re cooked at a high heat, it’s helpful to use an oil with a high smoke point. BBC uses sunflower oil for their best-ever roasted potatoes, Heston uses duck fat. I use olive oil, because that’s what I generally have on hand. It doesn’t have the highest smoke point of all the oils, but it does the job nicely.
BBC suggested that a mix of rapeseed and butter was good – although it does need to be clarified butter. Something for me to test, AKA a work mandated reason to eat more potatoes. Stay tuned.
Asking how long to cook your potatoes is like asking the length of string, if I can quote my Mum (and mum’s everywhere!) This depends on so many things – the size of the potatoes, your oven, how well you boiled them, etc. For this reason, I prefer not to give a cooking time. Once you’ve dropped the potatoes in oil and basted them, give them 20-30 minutes on the first side, size dependent.
When the timer goes off, flip the potatoes and cook them for however long you see fit. You don’t want leathery potatoes, but you do want a crispy crunchy crust. If you’re keen to push them to the limits, I recommend a quick baste with the hot oil every once in a while. If you can, keep them in the oven while you do it.
Once your potatoes are crisped to perfection, it’s time to remove them from the oven. You can blot them a little if necessary, but make sure you leave enough oil to allow the salt to cling to them. On that note, salt them pretty much straight away – the salt will adhere so much more efficiently than when the potatoes are cold.
Finally, a wise quote from Heston – roasted potatoes wait for nobody. They need to be brought to the table and consumed straight away for the best impact. Older roasted potatoes tend to become dry and less crispy, so all the other aspects of the meal should be ready to go. And before you ask, no – you can’t make them ahead of time (although I’m working on a ‘holiday potato’ prep post.) Pop them straight on your fork.
Crispy Kipfler potatoes
- 1 kg Kipfler potatoes washed
- Good quality olive oil see notes on oil
- Fine salt to taste
- Place the washed potatoes in a pot of very well salted water over a medium high heat. Allow them to boil until they’re completely cooked through – a knife should slide through them easily. Once cooked, drain the potatoes and allow them to steam dry.
- Preheat the oven to 200C or 400F. Take a rimmed baking tray and pour enough oil into it to thinly coat the bottom.
- Once the oven is ready, place the oil in for around 10 minutes to preheat. This will create shatteringly crisp potato bottoms.
- Slice the Kipflers on a hard angle so that as much potato flesh as possible comes into contact with the oven tray.
- When the oil is ready, work quickly to arrange the potatoes on the tray, leaving space between them to help them crisp. Use a pastry brush to quickly baste the tops of the potatoes in the hot oil. This will help prevent leathery potatoes.
- Place the tray back in the oven for 20 minutes. Flipping the potatoes, the bottoms should be lovely and golden. Allow to cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until both sides of the potato are golden. If you've got the time for it, I recommend flipping them every 10-15 minutes so as to baste each side in the hot oil. This minimises the chance the skins will become dry and leathery.
- Remove the tray from the oven and place the potatoes on a piece of kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil. While they’re still very hot, salt the potatoes with fine salt. Serve immediately – a roasted potato waits for no-one.