Helpful Hints Potato
Varieties Potato Varieties
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A Potato for Every Reason
While the potato is a very versatile vegetable, all varieties are not created equal.
Mealy potatoes have a high starch content which makes them light and fluffy when baked or mashed.
Waxy potatoes have a high water content and retain their shape when boiled which makes them appropriate for hot and cold uses such as salads, appetizers, or casseroles.
The brown, rough skinned Russet is the best variety for baking, mashing, and french frying.
Long white potatoes are the most versatile; they are good for baking and mashing, but they also have enough moisture to hold together if boiled.
The increasingly popular Yukon Gold and Yellow Finn potatoes can be baked but are best for mashing or boiling.
Round whites and round reds have the highest moisture content and are typically used for boiling.
New potatoes are young round potatoes that have thin delicate skins and a very low starch content making them an excellent choice for boiling, steaming, or pan roasting.
Fingerlings - young, long potatoes with a thin knobby shape - are an excellent choice for salads and other cold dishes.
Finally, the more exotic, purple colored potatoes are good for boiling with the added appeal of their vibrant colors.
Perfect Mashed Potatoes
The road to light and fluffy mashed potatoes is paved with stiff, lumpy, and pasty failures.Luckily, attention to a few details will ensure delicious results.
While it is possible to use any potato, the russet produces the fluffiest mash. Begin by placing peeled and quartered or cubed potatoes in a pot of cold water, bring them to a boil, and cook until tender. Drain in a metal ovenproof colander then, if possible, place colander in a 300 degree oven for a few minutes. This removes excess moisture and makes the starch granules lighter.
The amount of butter, milk, cream, or stock necessary will vary depending on the desired consistency, but it is essential that they are always heated just prior to use. (Two tablespoons of butter and six ounces of liquid are a good start for 1-1/2 lbs. of potatoes).
After putting the potatoes through a ricer or food mill (never a food processor), add the butter, half of the liquid, salt, white pepper, a pinch of grated nutmeg and whip. Then slowly add the remaining liquid until you achieve the desired consistency, but be careful, over whipping will make the potatoes pasty.
For a delicious change use buttermilk or extra virgin olive oil or add roasted garlic or grated Parmesan prior to whipping. You can also cook other vegetables such as parsnips or carrots with the potatoes for a personalized approach.
Helpful Hints Potato