Potato new buttered large

Potato new butteredPotatoes are versatile in the kitchen. You can cook potaoes in so many ways–boil, bake, roast, fry, steam, mash, and stuff. You can serve a different potato dish every day of the week.

Here’s a few potato cooking basics:

Bake. Choose potatoes the same size so that they will cook evenly. Scrub unpeeled, pierce each potato with a fork to allow moisture to escape during cooking, and place on an oven rack.

For a soft skin, rub each with butter or olive oil before baking.

Test for doneness by squeezing potatoes with an oven mitt. If there is a slight give the potato is done.

For a fluffy flesh, slice an X on the top of each potato then pinch the end to force up the steamy flesh, roll, and steam will release and potato will be fluffy.

You can bake several potatoes at once by standing them up in a muffin pan.

Boil. Cover in a small amount of salted water, bring to a boil for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender.

Fry. Peel or leave the skins on. Soak cut pieces in lemon water for about 15 minutes and dry thoroughly before frying. Fry until edges turn brown, drain, and then finish in a preheated oven at 250ºF for an evenly crisp serving.

Mash. Choose high-starch potatoes roughly the same size. Boil with skins intact until tender; drain; they will be easy to peel after cooking; add butter or warm milk or cream; mix with a wooden spatula. For lighter mashed potatoes, increase the mixing time and quantity of milk or cream added.

Roast. Boil small, all-purpose or low starch potatoes with skin intact. After, cut potatoes into even-size chunks. Toss with olive oil, salt, ground black pepper, and spread cut side down on baking sheet. Roast in 425ºF oven. Stir until crisp and golden.

Simmer. Round white potatoes can be simmered whole. Larger potatoes should be cut into halves, quarters, or thick slices. Place them in cold water. Cook for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on size, until they can be pierced to the center with a paring knife.

Steam. Place potatoes over boiling water, use a metal steamer or a colander. Place it over a few inches of water in a 2- or 3-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring the water to a boil, add the potatoes, and steam until crisp-tender.

Wrap-steam. Wrap each potato in aluminum foil. Bake at 400ºF for about 50 to 60 minutes. Turn each potato every 15 to 20 minutes so that they cook evenly. The flesh will be dense and gummy.

Stuff. Bake or wrap-steam the potato whole as described above. Then cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh leaving a thin layer of flesh to help the skin hold its shape. Mix the flesh with other fully cooked ingredients such as cooked meats or vegetables or pieces of cheese or any combination of these.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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