Bland, industrial, cooked-to-death, greasy, occasionally tasty… but only when it’s chicken tikka masala. I think that covers the waterfront on English food jokes, yeah? Despite a significant renaissance on the British food scene, the associations with droopy chips and sad boiled dinners tend to cling like sulfurous fumes to overcooked cabbage. National pride wounded, however, Mr. T does insist that English food, cooked in the home, is a very different and delicious beast.
And these roast potatoes, courtesy of his mom–excuse me, “mum”–Mrs. T, fall firmly into that different and delicious category. Indeed, everything that I’ve eaten at home on our visits to London has been quite delicious. Both Mrs. T and her sister, Auntie T, are very accomplished home cooks. (I am currently on the hunt for Auntie T’s uh-mazing chocolate apple cake.) His brother, Artsy T, spent time as a restaurant chef; and even his sister, Dr. T, has significantly upped her game since the arrival of the niecelet.
In any event, roast potatoes. I imagine that these accompany the big, juicy Sunday roasts that one reads about in Charles Dickens novels–generally only towards the happy ending, though. They’re basically what would happen if French fries and potato chips had illict, delicious babies. Crack their crisply burnished, golden brown crust to reveal pale and creamy potato innards. People, particularly those who have never had a traditional roast dinner, flip the bojangles OUT when presented with these. English expats are similarly thrilled. For Mr. T, who is quite the potato connoisseur, these represent the acme, epitome, the ur-potato experience. In short, they pretty much make everyone ridiculously, deliriously happy.
They’ve even replaced mashed potatoes at the Thanksgiving table. The traditionalist martinet in me (oh yes, I’ve got one of those) was not pleased at first, but EVERYONE is just totally taken with them. The mash just can’t hold a candle to these golden beauties.
Said potatoes require a screaming hot oven, some time, and a lot of lubrication. Since the roast dinner is not something that gets a lot of play these days, certainly in the US at least, allowances have to be made. We use a mild olive oil rather than more exciting goose fat or beef dripping. That said, for extra-super delicious bonus points, Team Goose Fat is the winner. You’ve go buckets of that floating around, right? I’ve only made them once with goose fat–for obvious reasons–but, damn, they were really, really good. So, next time you’re roasting a goose, save those um, “juices”!