Tips for Potato Lovers

Potatoes in some form or another probably appear on everyone’s list of favorite foods.  Whether you smash, slice, fry, shred, bake or puree there some “best practices” for preparing our spud pals.  Did you know?

  • When boiling potatoes, in order to avoid “mushiness” start them in cold water and once they’re done, never rinse them in cold water to cool.  Drain and let them air dry or put them back in the pot to dry out a little and then cool down naturally.
  • Idaho or Russet starchy potatoes are best for baking and deep-frying.  They are drier than other potatoes.
  • When you want potatoes to retain their shape and moisture (roasted, sauteed, potato salads,  etc) choose waxy potatoes, which have less starch and more water.
  • All purpose, or “chef” potatoes are great for a variety of applications including soups, stews, shredding, and mashing.
  • When it comes to mashed potatoes, I prefer the Yukon Gold potato.  It turns out moist, fluffy and delicious.
  • If you peel potatoes ahead of time, put them in some water until it’s time to cook them or they will turn brown.
  • If you store your baking potatoes in the refrigerator, your baked potato may have an unpleasant “sweet” flavor when baked due to the starch turning to sugar under refrigeration.  So, store them in a cool, dry place instead.
  • Be sure to dry out your cooked and drained potatoes before preparing them further (like mashing).  Water is the enemy of cooked potatoes!
  • For a perfect baked potato, just choose an Idaho or Russett potato, scrub it, dry it, poke a few holes in the ends and bake it until it is soft when squeezed.  There is no need for foil, oils or other preparations.
  • Be sure to always cut the green parts off  potatoes.  Bitter and not good for you to eat!
  • When making mashed potatoes, be careful not to over-whip or they will be sticky.  Also add the butter first and then the milk or cream.  You can keep them warm by setting the bowl of potatoes over a pot of boiling water (like a double-boiler set up)

Drum roll please…. Here’s my favorite mashed potato recipe.

Sinful Mashed Potatoes

1  (5-pound) bag of Yukon Gold potatoes
1 stick butter, softened
6 oz  of cream cheese, softened
4 oz sour cream, to taste
1/8 cup prepared horseradish, optional
¼ cup or more of half and half
Kosher salt & white pepper to taste

Peel and cube potatoes.  Cover with water in a sauce pot, add some salt, bring to a boil and simmer until falling-off-the-fork tender.  Drain completely and return to hot pot to dry out a little; mash potatoes (using a potato masher) with butter, cream cheese, sour cream, horseradish (if used), salt and pepper to taste.  Add enough half-and-half to achieve desired consistency.   Once you get everything mashed up together, give it a good whip with a hand mixer to make it smooth.  8 servings.

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