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What are the best varieties of potatoes to use for baking with a roast that will give a nice golden brown finish on the outside?

[Edit: to clarify, I'm from Australia and we don't really distinguish between baking and roasting potatoes. What I'm referring to here is "roasting" potatoes to be eaten with a roast lamb or beef]

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The butter-coated ones. –  Shog9 Jul 10 '10 at 4:56
    
I was meaning more what "varieties" instead of what "style". –  lomaxx Jul 10 '10 at 6:25
    
I think I'm causing some confusion. In Australia (where I'm from) baked and roasted potatoes are the same thing. –  lomaxx Jul 10 '10 at 12:55
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Your clarification means a lot -- "baked" potato in the U.S. tends to be a whole potato cooked on its own, where the insides become fluffy and creamy, and is done with larger starchy white potatoes, or sweet potatoes work well, too.

Roasted potatoes, on the other hand, tends to be (in the U.S.) be smaller "new" potatoes, waxy potatoes, or even larger starchy potatoes cut up (eg, 'oven fries').

The starchy potatoes only really hold up well when roasting if it's very high heat or a short amount of time -- if you're going to be cooking them with the roast as there's going to be moisture in there, I'd go for a waxy potato (eg, Red Bliss).

As for the browning -- probably coat them well with oil, and if they're not brown enough for your liking when you pull the roast, as you're going to have to rest it anyway, drain the meat juices, crank the oven up to somewhere around 450F (230C) and leave the potatoes in for a few extra minutes.

ps. yes, I know a sweet potato isn't a potato. And I also tend to use Yukon Gold for just about everything, as it makes great baked potatoes, and roasted potatoes (although, not sure how well with a roast at the same time) and they're good in pot roast and stews if you don't add them too early.

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Roasting (baking) potatoes have a higher starch content than potatoes that are, for example, used for boiling. They also tend to have a coarse skin.

In the UK/Europe I'd choose Desiree, king Edward or Maris Piper. I'm not overly familiar with potato varieties from the US, but I know that Russets and Goldrush are both very nice roasting potatoes.

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Your title and question seem to be a bit at odds.

At least in the US, a "baked" potato is typically a large, starchy potato served whole with a variety of optional toppings such as butter, salt, sour cream, chives, etc. Russet is what you would see most commonly.

For boiling or cooking with other foods, a starchy potato would fall apart. Instead, you want something more toward the waxy side of the scale, such as Yukon Gold. There are some red potatoes that fit here too, but I can't come up with a name for them at the moment.

Waxy potatoes tend to be smaller than starchy potatoes.

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is very correct. If you are baking, you want Russet which looks like this: google.com/images?q=russet+potato –  bubu Jul 10 '10 at 12:19
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