We used to have an all-time favorite roasted potato recipe. It reigned supreme for nearly a decade, and almost never failed to impress. Poor recipe. It's still going to be our go-to roasted potato recipe for weeknights, but duck fat and cornmeal joined together to stage a coup that dethroned the rosemary potatoes as a special occasion dish.
The victorious recipe is courtesy of Nigella Lawson, and I swear to you that it just might change your life; it could make a potato lover out of a spud spurner. Why? Because usually you have to take your pick when it comes to a cooked potato's virtues, but in this case you get them all, including a fluffy, almost creamy interior, and a crispy, golden outside.
The outer part of the potato is so crispy because the potatoes have been tossed with some cornmeal. It might sound strange, but thanks to the cornmeal, these potatoes become almost battered, and because they're cooked in plentiful amounts of duck fat, they're almost like French fries, too. The duck fat also lends the potatoes a certain richness, which really shines when paired with some diced onions or scallions. So that's why I say that these potatoes are like every yummy kind of potato all rolled in to one- they're like a baked potato combined with a roasted potato, mixed with a battered, fried, potato, with some hash browns thrown in.
Duck Fat Roasted Potatoes
(From Nigella Lawson)
We threw a handful of diced onions in to the pan during the last 15 or 20 minutes of cooking, which was delicious. We did that, though, because we didn't have any scallions at the time. So if you have scallions or chives, I would highly recommend tossing them with the cooked potatoes. Of course, you could use onions and scallions.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Peel the potatoes (if they have thick skins; if you use thin-skinned potatoes, I would leave the peel on), and cut each one into three by cutting off each end at a slant so that you are left with a wedge or triangle in the middle.
Put the potatoes into salted cold water in a large pot, and bring to a boil, letting them cook for 4 minutes. Drain the potatoes into a colander and then tip back into the empty pot, sprinkling over the semolina. Shake the potatoes around to coat them well and, with the lid clamped on, give the pan a good rotation and the potatoes a proper bashing so that their edges disintegrate or fuzz and blur a little: this facilitates the crunch effect later.
Meanwhile, empty the duck fat into a large roasting pan and heat in the oven until seriously hot. Then tip the semolina–coated potatoes carefully into the hot fat and roast in the oven for an hour or until they are darkly golden and crispy, turning them over halfway through cooking. If the oven's hot enough they probably won't need more than about 25 minutes a side; and it's better to let them sit in the oven (you can always pour off most of the fat and leave them in the pan) till the very last minute.