Potato varieties are endless; however, each type of potato has very different qualities. All potatoes can be classified by their starch content. There are floury high-starch potatoes (Russet, for example), which are ideal for mashing and baking, but not so good if you want to boil them whole, as they tend to fall apart in the water. Waxy low-starch potatoes, such as red-skin potatoes, are very firm and not so good for mashing, but make excellent potato salads, boiled potatoes and even potato gratins. Then there’s the medium-starch potatoes, such as the Yukon Gold, that can be used for just about anything… but especially wonderful for making french fries. These are your all-purpose potatoes.
Potatoes For Boiling
One of the best ways to prepare potatoes is boiled and mashed, served with lots of melted butter and a sprinkling of coarse salt. To do it well, choose small red potatoes. Peel, cut them into fourths, and drop them into already boiling salted water. Bring them back to a boil, and after 10 minutes of gentle boiling, test to see if they are done. A little tip: A small sprig of fresh mint added to the water heightens the flavor.
When removing the skin, peel just a thin layer of flesh off as possible, because all the vitamins and minerals are concentrated just beneath the skin. If the potatoes won’t be cooked right away after peeling, place them in a bowl of water to prevent discoloration; however, don’t soak them for too long or else you risk the chance of losing all the vitamins.
To boil the potatoes, you’ll want to be sure you boil the potatoes gently so that they don’t bump into each other and break up. When they are tender, drain them thoroughly and place into a bowl. Drop in a few chunks of butter and turn the potatoes over gently until they are well coated.
Boiled potatoes are very absorbent and so they are good for all dishes with a lot of gravy to mop up.
Potatoes for Sauteing
You’ll want to use an all-purpose potato for sauteing, such as the Yukon Gold, one of our favorites, and readily available at most supermarkets. The dry, firm texture makes them ideal for sauteing. Cut them up and drop them into a large pan of salted water for about 5 minutes to blanch them. Drain and dry them with a kitchen towel before putting them into the hot oil.
Potatoes for Deep-Frying
For french fries, the best choice is (once again) the Yukon Gold. After slicing up the potato into sticks, soak them in cold water for at least half an hour to get rid of the surface starch which may cause the slices to stick together when fried. Be sure to dry them really well before deep-frying them. Fried potatoes should be salted after cooking. Avoid covering them to keep them warm or you will end up with soggy french fries.
Potatoes for Roasting
Most all-purpose potatoes are good for roasting, but a favorite is the red potato. Small potatoes (such as fingerlings) should be avoided since they tend to dry out and not taste very well. Potatoes roast best if they are first boiled in well-salted water for about 3 minutes. Drain them well. Dry them on a towel before they go into the oven.
Potatoes for Baking
The large russet potatoes, such as Idaho, are the best for baking. They’re good mashed, too, but baked potatoes are extremely healthful since all the vitamins and flavor remain in the potato instead of being lost in the water that is then thrown away. There’s nothing like a big baked potato with all the fixings: butter, sour cream, salt, bacon bits, and fresh chopped scallions or chives.
Potatoes for Salads
We go for the red potato for our potato salads. The classic potato salad is plainly boiled and sliced potatoes mixed with a simple vinaigrette while they are still hot. A little bit more dressing is added right before serving. Another version, is adding in mayonnaise when cool, celery, dill, shredded carrots, and even sliced boiled egg.
Potatoes are simple to grow, cheap to buy, easy to cook and very satisfying and filling. They also seem to be the only vegetable that people never seem to get tired of. We will be sharing some of our favorite potato recipes in the blog articles to come. Stay tuned!