A much younger colleague once asked me, "What's the best thing to learn to cook?" I looked more than momentarily puzzled. How do you answer that question? So he rephrased, "What would you say is the dish that once you've mastered it, you can learn to cook anything?" My other chef colleague and I simultaneously answered, "Roast dinner".
I do think it's true. A full blown roast dinner, like a Christmas dinner for example, is an achievement. You have your roast meat or vegetarian alternative to think about. Then you have the potatoes, stuffing, cauliflower cheese, vegetables and Yorkshire puddings. And then there's the gravy. Depending on the size of your kitchen and your oven, there is a lot to think about and manage in that meal, not to mention the skill required to cook the components.
My favourite part of a roast dinner has got to be the roast potatoes. Crispy and slightly salty on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. I'll be honest, I love roast potatoes as part of a meal whether it's a roast dinner or not. They're just so frickin' delicious!
Sometimes though I can't be bothered going through the rigmarole of boiling, coating and roasting the potatoes. I know it's really no big hassle but if it's really hot or if it's been a particularly long day at work, I don't want to peel potatoes and heat the kitchen up with a pot of boiling water as well as the oven.
So I make them smaller and less fluffy, more crispy. These roast potatoes (because technically they are still roasted) are perfect for easy dinners and even BBQ sides. I'm told they go very well with steak, who am I to disagree.
Crispy Thyme Potatoes
4 - 6 large potatoes depending on how many people you are feeding
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C. Slice the potatoes thinly - about 0.5cm thick. Put the slices in a bowl and pour in the rest of the ingredients, stripping the leaves from the thyme stems. Mix everything together with your hands, lightly massaging the flavour into the potatoes as you go.
Cover a baking sheet (or two if you prefer) with baking paper and lay the potatoes out in a single layer. Place them in the oven until they are golden (not burnt) and cooked through (about 30-40 minutes). Simple as that!