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Christmas dinner: Celebrity chefs on how to get the perfect roast potatoes

© Alamy/PATop tips on how to make the perfect roast potatoes
Top tips on how to make the perfect roast potatoes

What you serve as the main dish for Christmas dinner is up for debate, but there’s one thing you’ll find on almost every table – roast potatoes.

Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, they’re a certified festive crowd-pleaser.

And yet nothing is more disappointing than soggy spuds that lack flavour – so what’s the best way to prepare them?

Here, star chefs give their top tips for the ultimate roasties…

Prep in advance

– Mary Berry

Mary Berry

Christmas Day can be hectic, as you desperately try to pull off the perfect meal among the chaos of unwrapping presents and pouring morning bubbly. That’s why Mary Berry recommends a bit of preparation, saying you can cook your spuds “ahead – slightly under – then on the day you can re-roast them”.

Her roasties recipe is a classic one: “I like them cut up reasonably small. I bring them to the boil in salted water on the stove, just for about eight or 10 minutes, then drain the water off and shake them in the pan so they fluff up on the sides. Then you can either toss them in a bit of semolina if you’ve got it or a little bit of flour. I don’t use a lot of oil – it can be sunflower or something like that – toss them in that, and then roast them.”

Cook And Share, BBC Books, £27

Add baking powder for extra crunch

– Nadiya Hussain

Nadiya Hussain © PA Photo/Chris Terry
Nadiya Hussain

Nadiya Hussain has a top tip for getting her potatoes really crispy and crunchy. “When you have parboiled for seven to 10 minutes, drain them and give them a smash around in the pan,” she says.

“Season them well – and then get some baking powder. Sprinkle it on, and your potatoes will sizzle. Swish it around, and that reaction when you’ve got that sizzling baking powder – that hits the hot oil and you get that instant crunch.”

She recommends one-and-a-half to two teaspoons of baking powder per kilo-and-a-half of spuds.

Nadiya’s Everyday Baking, Michael Joseph, £25

Roast them up Italian style

– Gino D’Acampo

Gino D'Acampo © PA Photo/Haarala Hamilton
Gino D’Acampo

“I do my roast potatoes very different from everybody else,” admits Gino D’Acampo.

“Everybody will parboil the potatoes, shake them up, then put the oil in the tray very hot. I don’t do anything like that.

“I do a recipe – Italian roast potatoes. I get new potatoes – the small ones – I leave the skin on, I put them on a tray, then I slice some red peppers, yellow peppers, green peppers, then I put cloves of garlic and lots of rosemary on top, olive oil, salt and pepper.

“Mix everything together, it goes into the oven at 180 degrees for one-hour-and-20-minutes, shake them every 20 minutes – the job is done.”

Gino’s Italy: Like Mamma Used To Make, Bloomsbury, £25

Throw in a stock cube

– Joe Swash

Joe Swash © PA Photo/Dan Jones
Joe Swash

Joe Swash starts his potatoes the usual way – parboiling them, shaking the spuds about and putting them in preheated oil – but then he has a secret weapon.

“Sometimes I’ll get a chicken stock cube and put it in the oil just before I put the potatoes in,” says the former EastEnder and Celebrity MasterChef finalist.

“The potatoes suck up the stock – it gives it extra flavour.”

Joe’s Kitchen: Homemade Meals For A Happy Family, Pavilion Books, £22

Inject them with even more flavour

– Nish Katona

Nisha Katona © PA Photo/Gareth Morgans
Nisha Katona

Nisha Katona’s first tip for the best roast potatoes in the world is to use olive oil.

Then it’s about adding as much flavour as possible.

“Olive oil, garlic puree, salt, brown sugar, and toss your potatoes,” she advises. “Then roast them and you are instantly getting all of that flavour in the salt, the sweet and the garlic – all of that massive flavour to the potatoes.”

Meat Free Mowgli: Simple, Nutritious & Ultra-Tasty Plant-Based Indian Meals, Nourish Books, £25

Combine with other root veg

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall 

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall © PA Photo/Simon Wheeler
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is all about boosting the flavour of potatoes with other vegetables.

“I like roasting lots of veg at Christmas, not just the potatoes,” says the celebrity chef.

“So I often do a tray of roots – which might be parsnips, potatoes and carrots – but I will also sometimes roast sprouts and shallots and even celeriac together. Then you get different levels of sweetness.”

To really get those potatoes golden, Fearnley-Whittingstall recommends making sure the oil is “really hot before the spuds go in”.

River Cottage Good Comfort, Bloomsbury, £27