Tantrums and Perfect Roast Potatoes

Nigella Lawson's gorgeous potatoes roasted in goose fat!  Oh my!  This is the perfect thing to do when you feel like throwing an epic tantrum but you can't because you know it will do you no good, and because you're an adult.  But oh how you wish you could!

There comes a time in the natural development of the child when he, or she realizes that a tantrum isn’t particularly productive. Oh, it doesn’t mean there won’t be tantrums a-plenty, but they know at that point, deep down, that they’re only doing it to blow off steam.  Sometimes it just feels good to let it all go. Full-on kicking, yelling from the toesies, and incoherent howling, some ugly crying and flinging oneself about. Adults stare disapprovingly, especially if the youngster has chosen a location with a jolly good audience, like the grocery store.  But what the adults are really feeling is envy.  Oh adults do try to deal with the sturm and drang of their lives in a more age-appropriate way as time goes on.  They drink too much at parties and throw people into the pool, or torment their spouse into a good ol’ screaming match about nothing in particular, or drive their car or boat flat out until it feels like its about to take off. Sometimes behaviours are less aggressive, more self-soothing, like buying something way too expensive or eating the entire pie with a side of a la mode. Some enjoy igniting twitter storms with a few well-chosen passive-aggressive taunts.  But they all know, at the bottom of their over-stressed little hearts, that what they really wish they could do is throw a full-on, Olympian level, knock it out of the park, temper tantrum. Oh if only we could. 

Times are tough. Tougher for some than others, of course. We think of those less fortunate and make a valiant effort to be grateful. But emotional suffering, like physical pain, is hard to gauge and compare. One person might cheerfully work around a shortage of this or that while another will collapse in a heap if they can’t have that particular brand of goose fat for making those amazing fried potatoes. Emotional suffering is relative. 

And there may be more emotional pain to follow if news reports of shortages of pork and beef come to pass. It may be time to steel ourselves and make a few contingency plans. Much of the stress of isolation has been ameliorated with slabs of beef and mounds of bacon and racks of ribs.  Without those delights to catch us as we fall into dinner time, we would truly be flying without a net. And we learned long ago that tantrums, though cathartic, are not particularly productive, and definitely unflattering. We need a plan. Stocking up is everyone’s Plan A.  But when the stocks must be rationed, the tough have to get going.  What’s for dinner?  

Well, for one thing, and just to be on the safe side, lighten up on that meat you have stashed in the freezer and hit up the farmers’ markets for some of the gorgeous vegetables that are appearing on the horizon right on cue! You know it’s healthier anyway. You’ve been kicking that resolution down the road since New Years. 

Should you find that goose fat:

Nigella Lawson’s Perfect Roast Potatoes (and they truly are) from Nigella.com. 


Serves: 10-16 as part of the feast

2 cups goose fat

6 pounds potatoes (such as Russet or Yukon Gold)

2 tablespoons semolina (I substitute corn meal and it works great)


Preheat the oven to 500°F. Put the fat into a large roasting tin and then into the oven to heat up, and get frighteningly hot. 20–30 minutes should do it.

Peel the potatoes, and cut each one into 3 by cutting off each end at a slant so that you are left with a wedge or triangle in the middle.

Put the potatoes into salted, cold water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil, letting them cook for 4 minutes.

Drain the potatoes in a colander, then tip them back into the empty, dry saucepan, and sprinkle the semolina over.

Shake the potatoes around to coat them well and, with the lid clamped on, give the pan a good rotate and the potatoes a proper bashing so that their edges fuzz and blur a little: this facilitates the crunch effect later. I leave them to rest at this stage. If you don’t, you’ll need to have preheated the oven earlier!

When the fat is as hot as it can be, tip the semolina-coated potatoes carefully into it (they splutter terrifically as you put them in) and roast in the oven for an hour or until they are darkly golden and crispy, turning them over halfway through cooking.

If the oven’s hot enough, they may well not need more than about 25 minutes a side; but it’s better to let them sit in the oven (you can always pour off most of the fat) till the very last minute.

When everything else is served up, transfer the potatoes to a large (warmed if possible) serving dish and bring to the table with pride in your heart”. 

I often make smaller amounts. Certainly these days. Cook up the potatoes to just fork tender.   Heat up the goose fat (or duck which you can buy in specialty stores) in a roomy frying pan to hot.  Toss the potatoes in corn meal. Fry to golden and amazing.  You might appreciate a splatter guard. Fair warning. 

The thing of it is, with a few minor adjustments – ration the meat, provide lots of glorious vegetables and have a ready supply of goose fat -  no one will have the slightest inclination to throw a temper tantrum. Not even you.