It was Canadian Laura Calder who showed Grandma how to slice potatoes like hard-boiled eggs, but without quite cutting them apart, so the potatoes fan out in hot fat in the oven like an accordion. Any medium-sized potatoes will do and the choice of fat can include olive oil, butter mixed with vegetable oil, or best of all pan drippings from a roast. They’re deliciously crispy and can be served with almost anything.

Serves 4
900 g/2 lb potatoes
A few bay leaves or thyme sprigs
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil or pan drippings from a roast

1. Heat the oven to 190˚C/375˚F. Put a potato (unpeeled) in a tablespoon and cut it into vertical 6 mm/¼ inch slices – this neat trick with the spoon ensures the potato remains joined at the base. Repeat with the remaining potatoes. Open the potatoes slightly and insert 1-2 bay leaves or thyme sprigs in each one.

2. Lay the potatoes in a baking dish just large enough to contain them. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and pour a 1.25 cm/½ in layer of oil or drippings on top.

3. Heat the potatoes on top of the stove until bubbling, then roast them in the oven, basting from time to time, until they are brown and crisp. Timing will vary from ¾ to 1 hour, depending on their size.