Roast potatoes for a crowd in a domestic oven?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by fional, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. fional

    fional

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    Hey,

    This is my first post here, so please be kind!

    Every Christmas, I cook dinner for a crowd of people - generally around 20, but it looks like it's going to be 30 this year. This obviously requires a lot of planning and I think I have it pretty much organised for this year, but I'm always stumped by the roast potatoes. This year, they are the only thing that will be in the oven, so no opening/closing of the door etc, but my problem still comes down to, as soon as you put that many potatoes in the oven, the internal temperature plummets and takes forever to get back to the desired heat. The oven I have to use (at a friend's house) isn't very powerful, but I'm stuck with it. I have a much better one at home, and have plenty of time for prepping, so if there's any successful way of doing something in advance, I'd welcome hearing about it.

    Obviously roasties left to go cold are revolting.

    I've seen an idea where you par-boil, fluff them, then put in a bag with some olive oil to coat them then cook from frozen, but that many potatoes at room temperature kill the heat in the oven, so if they're frozen, it's going to be much worse... would that affect the end result or would it just mean that it takes a long (long) time to cook them?

    Maybe I could par-roast them the day before or morning of, then sprinkle with flour for crispness before completing the roasting, in a couple of batches, which won't take anywhere near as long?

    Any ideas or experience would be welcome!
     
    eastshores likes this.
  2. mikeswoods

    mikeswoods

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    'roast potatoes' could you describe your recipe for us?
     
  3. fional

    fional

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    Ah, sorry. I thought everyone knew what roasties were! I guess it's a British thing!

    So, you par-boil peeled floury potatoes which have been sliced into large chunks, about 2-inches across, until the edges are soft but the inside is still firm. Then scuff up the sides by either using a fork, or by swirling them around in the colander. Leave to steam dry while your oven gets up to temperature - very hot.

    Heat about half a centimetre of fat (olive oil or duck or goose fat) in a baking tray in the oven and when spitting, put the potatoes into the fat and cover with the oil, then place back in the oven for about 40 minutes, turning a couple of times, until crispy on the outside. Drain and serve.

    There are slight variations on the theme - adding flour or breadcrumbs to the outside of the potatoes to give an even crispier skin, sometimes adding herbs and spices for something different. But the above method is the traditional one.

    So, you see, when the oven becomes too cooled down, the fat seeps into the potatoes and makes them greasy, rather than just turning the outsides golden and crispy. If you roast them, then let them go cold, again they turn yukky, like leather.
     
  4. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I cut them in 1/4s then toss in paprika s&p  herbs d province and roast  at 375 I turn once or twice and that's it till golden brown
     
  5. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I don't normally like to parboil my potatoes buy in this case it's your best bet. Parboil them until nearly done and then placing them in your roasting pan and transport. Then season and roast in the oven uncovered. It shouldn't pose a problem.
     
  6. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    That's a method I've never even tried.  I might try it tonight. 

    So sorry, no advice.
     
  7. fional

    fional

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    Sadly, it does pose a problem. I've done this the last couple of years and, as I said, because the temperature of the oven drops as soon as that many potatoes are placed in the oven, you end up with fattier, less crispy potatoes. So I need a different approach.
     
  8. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Have you thought of doing them in small batches on stovetop?
    Beg borrow or steal a heavy (cast iron) pan with low sides (less chance for steam buildup) preferably non coated (browns better and faster) and when you get to the pop into the oven step just do this instead.

    Preheat oven as usual.
    Get the pan hot enuf to brown but not so hot that the fat scorches ( hmmmm duck fat) then pop the prepared potatos in a few at a time.
    Enuf to get the job done in a timely fashion but not so many that they just sit and steam.
    When you see that lovely brown crust develop open oven and empty one pan into the other and shut oven door (quick! You are losing the trapped heat!).
    Repeat until all done.

    This is how I do my fish and shrimp when have more than a few peeps to feed.

    mimi
     
  9. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Also there will be probably be more than roasties at the party so you don't really have to make thirty full portions do you?
     
    flipflopgirl likes this.
  10. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Parboil your potatoes and drain. While still hot put potatoes into oven dry. Start heating your oil on stove top. When oven is back up to temp and oil is hot pour over potatoes in oven. Proceed as normal from there.
     
  11. chefboyog

    chefboyog

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    @FionaL
    Your recipe sounds good, maybe a little complicated, i.e. Pre heating oil, and par cooking the potatoes.
    Is it buffet or plated?
    If you want to simplify it a bit you could. Here is my simple version:

    For a plated meal I would use about 5 wedges per. You may be ok using even 3. Put them on your plate raw and take a look.

    Once you decide how many you need:
    Pre cut potatoes.
    Cut and count them. Hold them in cold water, in a bucket or similar container.
    On site: toss in oil, salt pepper, paprika ( use some smoked paprika for taste, regular for color, I use a lot of garlic as well. Some herbs, thyme, oregano, savoury. Whatever you think you need to compliment your meal really. Use a large SS bowl to toss them, or a buspan works and use your hands to mix. Wear gloves it gets messy!

    Bake single layer on baking sheets lined with parchment: 45-1 hr. Turn half way through. Parchment is optional but will save a lit if time at the sink later.

    Give yourself lots of time you don't want to be waiting on potatoes to plate. So start baking them 1.5 hrs ahead, even 2 hrs if you want to be safe. They will hold well in the oven just turn it off/ down when they are ready.

    OG
     
  12. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    It's the fluffing part that's intriguing to me.  Is the fluff used or discarded?
     
  13. chefboyog

    chefboyog

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    Yeh what do you mean fluff? In intrigued also.

    Another thing after re reading some posts, it seems the OP is going for what I would call fried potatoes not roasted per se. Maybe get a thermometer and large pot and just fry em?
     
  14. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I know what she means by fluff.  Jamie Oliver talks about the fluff as well when he talks roasted potatoes and I'm assuming it's a British preference.  Fluff is when the starchy surface of the parboiled potato get scuffed. This part crisps up while the inside stays "fluffy." Here is JO himself roasting the best potato 

    @FionaL  I would then go  with the idea that @cheflayne   mentioned.  Parboil the potatoes then transport.  Place in the pan as they are and put in the hot oven until the oven reaches your desired heat and the potatoes are hot hot hot.  Then go in and season and add the fat.  
     
  15. chefboyog

    chefboyog

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    @Koukouvagia

    OK I see thanks. Dang youtube made me watch a hellmand commercial gah I hate them adds lol.

    Those potatoes do look good. Baked, smashed and fried. Trifecta.
     
  16. fional

    fional

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    Some great ideas here, thanks! I think I'll try that method of getting the potatoes hot in the oven before adding the oil - it seems to make sense, plus will dry them out more, helping them crisp better. I'll give it a trial run and see how it goes.

    The "fluffing" of a good old British roast potato is two-fold. Firstly, by using a starchy potato, the par-boiling of it makes the outsides loosen slightly, making lots of little cracks. Then scuffing it up makes them rough, giving even more cracks, that the fat goes into. It's this that gives you the crispy outside and hence why par-boiling is essential. Secondly, by not boiling them to death, the inside of the potato stays firm when first placed into the oven, so the fat doesn't seep ALL the way in. So, when the potato is fully cooked, the inside is light and fluffy.

    You can't beat a bit of fluff with a proper roast potato.
     
  17. chefboyog

    chefboyog

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    Im definitely sod on the fluff!! Will try asap. I have smashed them before a la JO, but not fluffed, with par boiling.

    Smashed, baked, fried and fluffed! Sounds good anyway.
     
  18. ordo

    ordo

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    Potatoes by JO look so good. Sometimes i like lemon juice on the potatoes and we have a local variation,  "papas aplastadas" (crushed potatoes) which we make par-boiling the potatoes with the skin, hand crushing them and finish on a a flat grill with butter and olive oil. I'm in a potato mood now.
     
  19. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Totally agree with the yum factor of the traditional British "roastie" (thanks for the new term lol).....
    I have made them by par boiling then drying out and finished off in the fat from my New Year's roast.
    Never fluffed tho .
    Will def add to my technique.
    Who doesn't love the idea of more fat crisped potato ????

    Anything else I may be missing @FionaL ?
    Hmmmm?

    mimi
     
  20. fional

    fional

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    @flipflopgirl  If you can get your hands on some duck fat, that makes them SO much tastier! And use a Maris Piper potato if you can. For a bit of variation, you can put a little dry polenta in there, too, for some extra crunch. OK, I have to go peel some spuds...