Nigella Lawson's Unexpected Secret Ingredient For The Best Roast Potatoes

Who are we to question her...
Crispy fried potatoes.
Jennifer A Smith via Getty Images
Crispy fried potatoes.

As an Irish person, there are very few people I’ll take potato advice from. But Nigella “bury me in butter” Lawson? Yeah, okay, I’ll hear her out.

So, when I discovered she uses some pretty unique ingredients when cooking her roasted potatoes, I thought I’d give it a go ― and I’m incredibly glad I did.

Like Mary Berry, who uses semolina to enhance the crunch of her roast spuds, the TV legend has made some changes to the classic recipe

Firstly, she uses baby new potatoes rather than the traditional floury choices; secondly, she douses them in vinegar for what she calls a “wincing” tang.

The tonsil-nipping tartness of vinegar balances out the waxy butteriness of the spuds, and the flaky salt adds a welcome crunch ― which is, admittedly, just me trying to pretend my eating the entire tray in one sitting has anything to do with my culinary knowledge.

Any cooking tips?

In her site entry about the recipe, Nigella shares that “While steaming then roasting potatoes may seem rather a fandango, one bite of these will convince you that it’s utterly worth it; besides, it’s not as if you have to do anything while they either steam or roast.”

“Go slowly when adding the salt and vinegar, tasting as you go, as I like these to have the wincing hit of salt and vinegar crisps,” she advised, “and you may prefer a lighter hand with the sprinkling.”

As someone who accidentally made potatoes so vinegary they could have bored through the baking tray the first time I tried this recipe, I agree that you should taste as you go.

Lastly, this is not the recipe for a classic Sunday roast; it won’t lie placidly under a blanket of gravy or quietly shuffle along your fork to cushion a hunk of beef.

Its tangy, punchy flavours make it perfect as a standout midweek side, but to be honest, I ate mine with a sour cream and chive dip, completely on their own.

What’s the recipe?

To make the dish, you’ll need 500g of new potatoes, three 15ml glugs of olive oil, two and a half tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and one and a half teaspoons of flaky salt (like Maldon).

I wish the salt didn’t HAVE to be flaky, but having tried it with the salt grinder kind first, the difference is enormous; stick to the recipe on this one.

Steam the new potatoes until they’re tender (20-30 minutes). You can dry them off by removing the pan of water from underneath the hole-filled dish they cooked in, then sitting them back on top of the now-empty, slightly steaming pan.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/200ºC, add in the oil, and heat it up for five minutes, like you’re making toad in the hole.

While this is heating up, tip the steamed spuds onto the plate and smash them with the back of a fork ― “think of more-or-less halving, leaving rough edges,” advises Nigella.

Then add the spuds to the hot oil and (carefully!) coat them in it, roast them for 20 minutes, then turn the potatoes and cook them for another ten mins.

Once they’re golden brown with dark crunchy crumbles surrounding them, you can remove the spuds and cover them in salt and apple cider vinegar to taste (keep tasting as you go).

Apologies in advance for creating your next addiction...