When I read that Ina Garten’s website crashed recently because so many people were flocking to one of the recipes, I wasn’t surprised. The Barefoot Contessa has so many fan-favorites — but it wasn’t even her own dish that caused the technical difficulties.
Instead, it was actress Emily Blunt’s English roasted potatoes that inspired everyone to overload the site. As a lifelong anglophile, I already knew most British people take their spuds seriously. Potatoes are also possibly my favorite food on the planet, so I had to try it for myself (as soon as the recipe page was back online).
I started by following the instructions to peel my potatoes and sliced them into chunks. I tried to keep roughly the same size, but potatoes are wonky shapes anyway, so it’s not the easiest task! After chopping, I tossed my spuds into salted boiling water and waited for the bubbles to raise back again before lowering it to a simmer for about 8 minutes.
Once they were tender enough to poke through with a fork, I drained and returned them to the same pot for what seems to be the crucial step in Blunt’s technique — roughing up the edges by giving them a good shake for about 5 seconds. According to her, this is what makes the outer later so perfectly crispy while keeping the inside fluffy and creamy.
As you can tell by the photo below, my potatoes definitely look roughed up:
I then let them sit on a baking rack over a sheet pan to cool down for about 15 minutes before roasting. The recipe claims you can let them sit for several hours or pop them in the fridge for up to 6 hours, if you want to prep them early to cook later.
While they finished cooling, I poured half a cup of vegetable oil onto my pan, tilting it to make sure to cover the whole thing. I then let it heat up in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about five minutes before taking the pan back out and carefully laying my potatoes in the oil, making sure they all got coated well. I could hear them sizzling already!
Then it was finally time to leave them in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. I gave them a toss to re-coat the oil after about 30 minutes, then checked on them again after 15 more minutes. They seemed to be the appropriate level of golden — and the aroma was already making my mouth water — so I took them out.
Some of my smaller chunks got a bit crispier than others (OK, burnt), but that was fine by me. I selected one of the best looking spuds to take a bite out of first and was happily sold on how they turned out. Just as Blunt promised, the outside was delightfully crispy and the inside was oh-so fluffy.
The whole thing is pretty labor intensive, though, so I see why English folks tend to save these potatoes for their more leisurely Sunday dinners rather than a Tuesday night like I did. That said, I very much recommend trying this out for yourself ASAP!