Is there such a thing as perfect roast potatoes?

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Niki Bezzant discusses her quest to make the perfect roast potatoes…

Perfect roast potatoes. Few food topics I’ve posted on my Facebook page have elicited such adamant and varying opinions. It occurred to me during recent heated discussions on this that I was lucky my Facebook friends were not all in one place; people were really very exercised. I wonder: are potatoes the new politics?

Roast potatoes (along with hot chips, their close relative) are a great example of the holy trinity of tastes humans love: carbs, salt and fat. I suspect that’s why we’re so opinionated about them; they represent all that is delicious about sitting down to eat. Pity the poor paleo dieters for whom potatoes are on the banned list. You just can’t get as excited about roast kumara.

Among my foodie friends there were almost as many preferred methods of achieving holy grail roasties as there were people. Broadly speaking, though, they fell into two camps: the “just use the right potatoes and a hot oven” school, and the more elaborate but intriguing methods involving parboiling and ‘roughing-up’ the potatoes before roasting. At this point they fell into sub-camps involving – or not – the use of seasoned flour and various amounts of heated – or not – fat.

I surveyed the methods of famous cooks. Jamie Oliver’s method is often-quoted; he may be the person who popularised the ‘roughing-up’ approach. The theory here is that the rougher the outside surface of the potatoes, the more they’ll catch the fat and crisp up when exposed to heat.

In his Perfect roast potatoes (pictured left), Jamie advocates parboiling the spuds for 7 minutes before steam drying for 3 minutes. He then ‘chuffs up’ the potatoes to rough the outside surface, and tosses them in fat – olive oil, butter or goose fat. They go into a hottish oven (190C) for 30 minutes until ‘three quarters’ cooked.

Here Jamie does something that departs from other methods I found. He squashes the potatoes with a masher, adds more oil and flavouring, and roasts for another 45 minutes.

Nigella Lawson goes for a different approach for her Perfect Roast Potatoes (pictured right), and this seems to echo many of my friends. She parboils, then sprinkles with semolina at the roughing-up stage. She also pre-heats the fat – 2 cups of goose fat for 2.5kg potatoes – until it is what she calls ‘frighteningly hot’ before adding the spuds into the dish for roasting. She uses a very hot oven, 250C, for about an hour. Nigella’s spuds look delicious; as if they’ve been deep-fried (which they practically have been, looking at that fat quantity).

Heston Blumenthal does it differently again, running them under water for 5 minutes at the start of the process to get rid of excess starch. He boils his potatoes until ‘very soft’ (25-30 minutes) before heating quite a lot of oil – a layer 5mm deep – and roasting the potatoes for an hour and 15 minutes, turning every 20 minutes in a 180C oven. This is serious commitment to roasties.

As someone who had always achieved, I thought, pretty good roasties by simply putting Agrias with oil in a hot oven, I found myself more and more intrigued. It was time to buy a large bag of potatoes and get experimenting.

In a commitment to the scientific method, I used the same potatoes (Agria); the same dish and the same oil for all my potato experiments.

First I tried Jamie’s method. He was a little vague in terms of how much oil to use. I had to guess what a ‘good lug’ of oil is, and also what size ‘twice the size of a squash ball’ is, having never played squash. However, everything else went pretty well. This method produced quite busted-up potatoes, as you’d imagine with spuds squashed with a masher. It produced a satisfying amount of very crispy, crunchy small pieces, and the spuds that stayed intact had a crunchy outside and soft inside. They were a little oily, which I didn’t love, but overall these were well worth the wrist burn I sustained in making them.

Next, I thought it worth a foray into the flour-and-hot-fat arena. I decided Nigella’s recipe was a little inaccessible, given the goose fat. But I went with her basic approach of pre-heating the fat. I didn’t want to risk an oven fire by heating oil for 30 minutes as per her instructions, so I followed a BBC Good Food method and heated the olive oil (NZ EVOO, as per my other tests, and which has a high smoke point) for about 5 minutes. I parboiled for 7 minutes again, and roughed-up as per Jamie. Then I sprinkled with a teaspoon or so of plain flour, and roasted at 200C for about 50 minutes.

These potatoes were exceptionally golden and crisp. The flour gave them an irresistible crunchy coating and the inside was soft and fluffy. We had an early front-runner.

My last two experiments involved leaving the skins on the spuds. The skin is where a lot of the goodness in a potato is, including the vitamin C and fibre. I’m used to not peeling and I wanted to see how my old method would shape up, so I first tried that: just scrubbing, drying and cutting, coating with oil and popping into a hot oven for 50 minutes (pictured left).

I’m not too proud to say that these are now my least favourites. They were golden and the outsides were crunchy. The inside was fluffy and soft. But they didn’t have the crunch of the other methods, and the skins, although flavoursome, were a little leathery by comparison.

The next version was more successful: skins on, parboiled and roughed-up (pictured right), then the same oil/heat/time combo as before. These were definitely crunchier, and stayed so as they cooled. Parboiling meant the skins separated from the flesh a little and crisped up in quite a satisfying fashion. I liked these spuds a lot.

So, after giving my oven a workout, incurring injury and eating many more than my fair share of potatoes, what have I learned? Here are what I now believe are the key points in achieving the perfect roast potatoes.

  1. Agria is king. You can’t get perfect roasties without using the perfect potato for the job. Agria is a floury potato, grown for roasting or mashing. Its soft yellow flesh becomes fluffy and tender in the oven. Don’t go near ‘all purpose’ potatoes or potatoes that say they’re good for salads or boiling. That will only lead to disappointment.
  2. Parboiling definitely makes a difference to exterior crunch. Even cooking for 5 minutes softens the outside surface of the spuds, meaning they can be tossed around to create a rough surface that, when combined with oil and heat, becomes crunchier than a non-parboiled potato. If you can be bothered, this is a step worth taking.
  3. You don’t need too much oil. I didn’t even go down the duck or goose-fat road, since these are not a typical feature of most kitchens. If that’s your bag, knock yourself out. Or let the potatoes do it for you. But I found a thin coating of olive oil was all I needed. Pre-heating the oil made marginal difference in my experiments.
  4. For extra credit, a little sprinkle of flour does seem to create more crispy crunch and it takes no time to do.
  5. Skins on or off is a personal preference thing. I think they’re a nice texture and it probably makes your roasties a bit healthier.
  6. Salt is your friend. Obviously the less salt, the healthier. But potatoes love salt and it makes the overall roastie experience that bit more perfect.
  7. As with all cooking, don’t get too hung up about achieving perfection. I can confidently say that the only rule you really need to follow here is the first one. If you do that, whatever else you do, all roasties are good roasties.


Niki Bezzant is a renowned writer, editor, speaker, eater and Editor-at-Large for Healthy Food Guide. This is the first of a series of monthly blogs Niki will write for Potatoes New Zealand. You can follow Niki at 

Summer Salads

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Posted by BlogAdmin on January 7th, 2016

Blog summer salad thai potato and prawn salad
Thai Potato and Prawn Salad

Salads are a great summer food as they can be a stand alone meal or the addition to meal.  Done right a salad can provide carbohydrate, fibre, protein and many vitamins and minerals.  While some salads can leave you unsatisfied by adding potatoes which have a high satiety index rating you will feel fuller longer.  So how do you build a perfect salad?

1.  Create your base:  Potatoes make a great base as they can be paired with many different vegetables and they hold dressings well. To save time cook double the night before with dinner, left over cooled potatoes are perfect for salads! Alternatively a green leafy base such as spinach, cos lettuce or kale.
2.  Add more vegetables:  By adding more vegetables you can create different textures, and flavours.  Vegetables such as capsicum, onion, tomatoes, green beans, beetroot and corn all work well with a potato base.
3.  Add protein:  Protein is a great addition to salads as it helps to keep you full for longer.  Tuna and bacon are great with potato or if you want to keep the salad vegetarian nuts, seeds and legumes such as chickpeas or cannellini beans.
4.  Time for the dressing:  Creamy dressings are traditional for potato salads, but how about mixing up the mayo to use 1/2 mayo and 1/2 plain yoghurt or cottage.
And just like that you have created a delicious salad!
Note:  Cold potatoes have a lower glycaemic impact for those on diabetic diets and also by adding a vinaigrette containing acid such as lemon, lime or vinegar you can further reduce the glycaemic impact. 
If you would like some salad inspiration, check out these recipes on the website:

Potatoes-star of the show – Ruth Pretty

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Archive for December, 2015

Potatoes – star of the show – Ruth Pretty 


Blog Ruth Pretty


Ruth Pretty – Finest ingredients prepared simply.

A great caterer needs to be many things, but ‘crowd pleaser’ and ‘palate teaser’ are two qualities that certainly feature high on the list.  Weddings, significant birthdays, family celebrations and even funerals are all more memorable when accompanied by stunning food.  But things can get tricky when you’re feeding en masse, even harder when the tastes you have on offer need to appeal to everyone from a cousin’s fussy kids to ninety five year old Uncle Wilfred with his delicate constitution.   Corporate events and state dinners are no different.  In the food stakes, it takes all types.

‘It’s very hard to find anyone that doesn’t love potatoes,’ says Ruth Pretty, celebrity caterer, food writer, and author.  ‘We use potatoes extensively for events.  Despite grains being very fashionable now, they’re not to everybody’s taste.  But everybody in New Zealand loves potatoes.  And there are so many different ways you can do potatoes.’

The vegetable sits well with Ruth’s overall food philosophy, which is not so much driven by the latest and greatest food fashion, but by what’s fresh, what’s in season and by what her clients enjoy when it comes food.

‘Our style would be best described as really good quality produce done simply.  Our flavours are very focused on fresh herbs and citrus.  People are often surprised at the range of food we serve at different events.  They might know us as a high-end caterer but don’t realise that we often serve quite informal, casual food.  Fries served in a paper cone is very popular with drinks for example.’

As one of the country’s top culinary talents, Ruth knows a thing or two about what works.  Operating a highly successful catering business with her husband Paul for more than 25 years, Ruth continues to inspire professional and home cooks alike with her long-running column in the DominionPost, her frequent media appearances and through her popular cookbooks.  Her cooking school, based at the couple’s 27-hectare property Springfield in Te Horo, has allowed many keen cooks to get a firsthand experience of cooking with Ruth.

‘We do potatoes all the time in the cooking school,’ says Ruth.  ‘We could never run the Christmas class without having potatoes in it.  Everybody has potatoes on Christmas Day don’t they?’

True to form, Ruth remains very particular about the potatoes she uses, sourcing only the freshest from third generation growers Laugesen’s Market Garden in Wanganui.  Agria are her variety of choice although she is rather partial to Jersey Bennes when in season.

‘I love potatoes,’ says Ruth enthusiastically.  ‘We make them with an aromatic salt – with turmeric and ground almond – and roast them in olive oil, cut side down on a low sided tray.’

For an easy dinner accompaniment, Ruth suggests what she calls ‘Scout Potatoes’ – cubes of washed, unpeeled spuds tossed in olive oil, rosemary and salt.  But her all-time favourite way of serving potatoes is freshly boiled with a thick dressing of olive oil, Manuka honey and mustard.  When served with a crunchy sprinkle of toasted seeds and quinoa, it’s a sure fire winner that is easily prepared at point of service – for twenty five or a thousand guests.

A classic mash is also a crowd pleaser, according to Ruth.  Although her secret to a great mash may not please the strictest health fanatics.  ‘We like to use more butter and cream than potato probably! Melt butter and cream over heat – add salt pepper and nutmeg.  Then we’ll fold in more butter and cream.  It’s lovely with fish!’

It may not be an indulgence for every day, but on a special occasion there is nothing more pleasurable than to celebrate with good food.  Just ask a caterer.

Article from freshinspiration magainze, issue 19 Summer 2015

Potatoes-star of the show-Martin Bosley

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Potatoes – star of the show – Martin Bosley 

Martin Bosley


Food writers stand apart.  Other professionals involved in the celebration of good food, most notably chefs and restaurant reviewers, devote themselves almost entirely to impressing.  With elaborate plating or elegant phrasing, they hope to demonstrate to the average punter why they’re not in the kitchen themselves.  Great food is a serious business.  Only professionals need apply.

But food writers take a different approach.  They prefer an open door policy.  Food is for the people.  Come on in and help mash the spuds.

‘Our job is part aspirational, part attainable’ says Martin Bosley, food writer for Air New Zealand’s Kia Ora magazine.  ‘I want people to read my column and go: I could do that.  I want to encourage people to get back into the kitchen – its doesn’t have to be complicated, or involve a day’s worth of prep.  Cooking must be fun.  Let’s have serious food but have a great time doing it.’

Of course Martin Bosley has seen both sides.  A celebrated chef, Bosley has been at the helm of a number of award winning find dinning establishments.  He has also maintained a demanding schedule as a food columnist for the last 10 years, most notably with his popular weekly column in the New Zealand Listener.  Bosley has also authored two books and represented New Zealand international in Japan and North America as a Chef Ambassador.

With such a full agenda, it’s easy to see why Bosley’s recipes favour an uncomplicated approached to ingredients.  ‘The older I get, the simpler my food becomes and the tools I need to produce it.  I only have two knives.  I used to get around with a knife kit with 30 knives – I could have disemboweled a cat!’

‘I have a rule with my recipes – I must be able to buy all the ingredients at my local store.  We thing we’re so clever sometimes with food and the art of cooking – but the choices of ingredients and marriage of flavours, that hasn’t changed at all.  People have tossed out the potatoes for quinoa.  But they’ll get bored with quinoa, and the potatoes will go: Yeah, we knew you’d be back.’

Potatoes loom large in Bosley’s culinary compendium.  He cites the staggering number of entries relating to the potato in the haute cuisine reference cookbook, Le Repertoire de la Cuisine as proof of the vegetable’s unrivalled versatility.

‘There are a number of ingredients that we just go to – they’re a bit maligned.  We don’t give them a second thought – we might talk excitedly about spunkily fresh snapper or crayfish or the season’s first asparagus – which is great, I love seasonal eating – but staples like potatoes, we just ignore them.

‘Potatoes are the most versatile vegetable – we don’t do enough with them.  And they’re good for you.  Loaded with potassium and vitamin C.  And they’re economical too!  Potato gratin – what a magical dish!  Fresh gnocchi – amazing.  Perfect mash – totally over the top.’

Bosley believes more should be done at a restaurant level to elevate the potato, with chef’s showing a keener interest in showcasing the range of varieties available in New Zealand.

‘Back in the day we just brought potatoes – we didn’t know what variety they were.  We should be celebrating them by name on menus. Jersey Bennes are the hero of the story – they’re the only potato we all know by variety and we all willingly buy them in a cardboard box at an enormous expense.  But it doesn’t start with the consumer.  They follow what the chefs at the cool restaurants are doing.’

Then again, perhaps it’s what the food writers are doing in the real world that matters more.


Article from freshinspiration magainze, issue 19 Summer 2015


Potatoes NZ and The Food Show

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Potatoes NZ and The Food Show 



Blog potatoes nz and the food show

This year we were pleased to be part of the Heart Foundation’s Tick Stand at both the Auckland and Wellington Food Shows.  It was a great opportunity to be in front such a large audience with another organisation who is promoting healthier choices. The Heart Foundation Tick programme is making it even easier and quicker for consumers to make healthier food choices such as NZ grown potatoes!

 The Auckland event was held on from Thursday 30th July – Sunday 2nd August and was attended by 35,093.  Potatoes NZ spent some time on Saturday at the Heart Foundation’s Tick Stand sampling Cumin Roast Potatoes.  These were incredibly popular with plenty of people coming back for seconds!

 There was a lot of conversations  about locally grown potatoes and in particular what variety of potatoes is best for particular types of cooking.  So here is a quick guide on choosing the right potato for its end use.

 The Wellington Show was held Friday 4th September – Sunday 6th September with a smaller attendance than previous years with only 13,000 over the 3 days.  The atmosphere at Wellington was more like a Farmer’s Market, with friends catching up over samples, rather than the “shopping & eating” frenzy at Christchurch and Hamilton.



Potatoes NZ Inc. Conference 2015

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Potatoes NZ Inc. Conference 2015 

The 2015 Potatoes NZ INC. Conference saw a new programme structure with a key focus on ensuring all attendees leave the conference with some key “take home” messages that they can apply to their own businesses.

The conference was held in Ashburton from Thursday – Friday 23 & 24th July.

 On Thursday afternoon the PNZ Inc. R & D session was held at the Ashburton Trust Events Centre as part of the Foundation for Arable Research Conference and this was followed by the Conference Dinner held at Hotel Ashburton.

 The Conference was officially opened the following morning with the PNZ Inc. AGM followed by the keynote speaker Ian Proudfoot of KPMG. Ian is KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness and has been involved in the development of KPMG New Zealand’s agribusiness focus group and annual Agribusiness Agenda though the leadership report series. He outlined strategic opportunities and challenges facing horticulture businesses in the coming year.

 For the remainder of Friday morning attendees enjoyed main and concurrent breakout sessions which will were targeted at key sector interests – exporters, seed growers and fresh growers/marketers as well as on farm topics around irrigation – a hot potato this season!  A concurrent session was also be centred on the new Innovation Group providing an opportunity for those interested in new product development to network with like- minded industry members.

 The main morning speaker sessions were be provided by Professor Gary Secor, North Dakota University, who spoke on disease management and his zebra chip experiences and Ron Greentree, Australia’s largest grain grower, discussed his experiences in developing and growing his business.

With the afternoon session came an oppurtunity to streatch the legs and get some fresh air with a bus ride to visit a local potato growing operation as well as a presentation from Ravensdown on its latest developments and a visit to the Storage Hub, a centralised crop storage facility in Rakaia.

The conference was closed at 4pm, with a great feeling of a beneficial few days by all.

Thanks to all the industry sponsors and supporters – T & G, Bluebird, AGMARDT, AsureQuality, Bearsley Exports, Countdown, KPMG, Landpower, Plant & Food Research, Produce Agencies, Alex McDonald Seed Merchants, DuPont, SGS, Trimble and Ravensdown.

Selaks New Zealand roast day

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Selaks New Zealand Roast Day

Posted by BlogAdmin on July 22nd, 2015



It’s not long to Selaks New Zealand Roast Day, so we think its a great time to start thinking about what type of potatoes you are going to cook with your Roast!  This years event is on Sunday 2nd August.

Roasts are a traditional part of our kiwi upbringing, so what better way to bring our family together this winter to celebrate.

Why not try our Cajun Roast Potatoes with this years roast – /recipes/view/Cajun-roast-potatoes

or even our Lemony Roast Potatoes –  /recipes/view/Lemony-roast-potatoes


Read more here.


Nutrition Resource

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Potatoes NZ Inc. have recently launched a new Potato Nutrition Resource.  This resource is designed so we can spread the word on the nutritional benefits of our humble potato to not only health professionals and foodies, but to the general public too. The resource explains the key nutrients found in the potato and the benefit these have to our bodies.  Did you know that :

  • a healthy body needs a regular source of vitamin C?  Well potatoes are a good source of vitamin C with up to 40% of your Recommended Daily Intake!
  •  that potatoes contain four B Vitamins – B9 Folate, B1 Thiamin, B3 Niacin and B5 Pantothenic Acid?
  • and that potatoes have 602mg of potassium which is more than a banana ?

You can also read about how potatoes play an important part in a balanced diet.  But heres the interesting part.  Did you know  potatoes are a high satiety index food?  This is great news as the higher the satiety index the greater the feeling of fullness for longer.

You may have also heard the term Glycaemic Impact lately?  But do you know what this means? Compared to the glycemic index the advantage of this measure is that glycemic impact is like a nutrient – it has gram units and can be expressed as g/100g of food or g/serving of food, just like other nutrients on a food label.  Potatoes are in fact an excellent source of low-density energy.  This means that the energy from potato comes from carbohydrate (17kJ/g) rather than fat (34kJ/g) and is diluted about eight times with water. The glycaemic impact of potato is easy to manage in a healthy diet. When a cooked potato is left to cool, the starch chains partially join up, and they are digested at a slower rate and have a lower glycaemic impact per weight.  Which means potatoes are a perfect addition to a balanced diet.

#junkfreejune and Potatoes NZ

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#junkfreejune and Potatoes NZ

Posted by BlogAdmin on June 10th, 2015


Potatoes NZ is a proud supporter of Junk Free June.  Junk Free June is this years campaign to raise money for the Cancer Society of New Zealand. Like many charities the Cancer Society relies on donations to fund much needed cancer research and to support people and their families with cancer.

Cancer is New Zealand’s biggest cause of death and most of us has been affected by this disease in some way.  But did you know that most common cancers could be prevented by eating a nutritious diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight?

June Free June aims to give people freedom by helping people free themselves from the things that have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing, raise social awareness of what healthy choices are, educate people on how to live a healthy lifestyle, and empower people to make positive choices.

The good news is that during 30 days you can create new lifelong healthy habits that can stretch beyond the month of June.  It will be your new normal and a new way of thinking about health. One of the best things we can all do for our health is to eat more fresh foods, more whole foods, and more plant based meals.

Here are some tasty snack ideas to help you out through June!

The Great NZ Food Show 2015

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The Great NZ Food Show 2015



Blog the great nz food show 2


The Great NZ Food Show was held at the Mystery Creek Events Centre in Hamilton from Friday 22nd – Sunday 24th May.  Potatoes NZ was asked by the Heart Foundation Tick Team to join their stand on the Saturday.  While outside the day was windy, grey and pouring with rain.  Inside the show was a hive of activity (along with being warm and dry!) with some visitors making the trip all the way from Gisborne!

This vibrant culinary event was in its second year of showcasing some of the best in food, wine and new innovative products.  Their were celebrity chefs, tastings, gadgets and plenty of artisan, gluten free and organic products.  So plenty to satisfy everyone in the mighty Waikato!

Potatoes NZ showcased the multi-talented potato.  There were Potato Skins and Potato Dip to try (which was a massive hit) along with Lemon Pepper Baked Potatoes.  Hundreds of recipes were handed out to Potato Dip converts along with the new nutrition resource.

It was a great day in the Waikato and we look forward to the next food show in Auckland.

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