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I tend to par boil potatoes before roasting them; however, a common error that I make is to over par boil (or as it is otherwise know: boil). Unfortunately, I'm unlikely to ever get this right.

So my question is this: is there anything I can do "after the fact" to the potatoes to stop them falling to pieces in the oven?

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Have you tried different kinds of potato? – AkiRoss Dec 22 '13 at 15:56
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Once the potatoes are overcooked, there is little you can do to give them structure again.

Your best bet would be to re-purpose the dish, making them into potato pancakes, a home fry, or some other type of dish, depending on how much structure is left.

In the future, you can minimize the chances of mushy breakdown by:

  • Use a waxy potato (such as the US varieties Red Bliss or fingerling). These hold their structure better than starchy potatoes like Russets.
  • Start the par-cook in cold water, and remove the potatoes as soon as it is comes to the boil. This will still shorten your roasting time, but minimize the likelihood of severely overcooking.
  • Add a small amount of vinegar to the par-cooking liquid, which will help the pectin retain structure.
  • Depending on the variety of potato you are cooking, don't cut them up into small chunks. It is much easier to overcook small chunks than larger ones.
  • Don't par-cook. You will require longer for roasting, but it is slower and more controlled, and less likely to overcook.
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I've tried both ways, and you definitely get a better texture when par boiling... even if it ends up as roasted mash. The rest of the comments are interesting though - especially the vinegar suggestion! – pm_2 Dec 22 '13 at 14:31
There are a myriad methods. Kenji Alt recipes are usually very good, and he is using Russets which have a texture I personally prefer.… – SAJ14SAJ Dec 22 '13 at 14:34

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