Tips and Tricks Tuesdays: Potatoes

Potato Tips

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If the pile of 10-pound potato bags at the store looks messy, it’s because I was digging to the bottom to find the bag of potatoes that has absorbed the least amount of sunlight.

Smell the potatoes. They should smell like good soil, not mold.

Squeeze the potatoes. They should be firm, with no give.

When making mashed potatoes, let the potatoes sit in the colander after having been drained and let them steam off any extra moisture. Then add the butter first and mash it in before any of the other ingredients. Let the starch absorb the fat.

If you are making potato salad, dress the potatoes while hot. If making a vinaigrette, add the vinegar and herbs first, then the oil.

Waxy potatoes like fingerlings or German butterballs make the best roasted potatoes.

Duck fat or lard might be the best choice of roasting fat, and will brown the potatoes deeply and create a crispy exterior with a creamy interior.

If you want to roast potatoes in butter start off by roasting the potatoes in canola oil, then during the last 15 minutes of roasting time, stir the butter into the hot potatoes and finish roasting them. This will keep the butter from burning.

If your potatoes have begun to sprout but aren’t green, bake them till tender. Then let them cool and store them in the fridge to make hash browns or rösti. About five potatoes makes a nice dinner-sized rösti for two. The baked potatoes will last about 5 days in the fridge.

Try a Rösti

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2¼ lb. russet potatoes (about 3 large)
2 tbsp. lard or unsalted butter
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain potatoes, and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Peel potatoes, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Grate potatoes using the large holes on a cheese grater; set aside.

Heat lard and oil in an 8″ nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When lard has melted, add potatoes, sprinkle with salt, and mix well, coating potatoes with fat. Using a metal spatula, gently press potatoes, molding them to fit the skillet. Cook, shaking skillet occasionally, until edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Cover skillet with a large inverted plate, invert the rösti over onto plate, then slide it back into the skillet, cooked side up; cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, sprinkle with salt, and cut into wedges to serve.

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