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Potatoes 101: A Foolproof Guide to Cooking Potatoes

Potatoes 101: A Foolproof Guide to Cooking Potatoes

Potatoes are one of the most versatile, economical, and crowd-pleasing veggies. And as a rich source of B6 and C vitamins, they’ve been a staple food in almost every part of the world since humans have been farming.


Thanks to their relatively mild flavor, potatoes are an easy addition to almost any recipe. With the help of this foolproof guide, learn which spud is right for the job and how to prepare and cook the perfect potato every time.




First, Pick Your Potato


Russet potatoes: Sometimes called “Idaho” or “baking” potatoes, these are perhaps the most common variety of potato. When baked, the result is a delicate flavor, crispy skin, and light and fluffy center that’s perfect for a variety of toppings. Even better, they’re in season year-round and available in most parts of the country.


Yukon Golds: In the 1960’s, Canadian scientists developed this relatively new strain of potatoes. They’re a favorite among chefs for their flaky, golden flesh and mild, creamy flavor. Once considered a specialty produce item, Yukon Golds are now widely available in supermarkets throughout the year.


Red potatoes: Also called “new” potatoes, these range in size from as small as an egg to as large as an apple. They have a thin, papery skin and a firm, waxy interior. Their flesh is sweet and holds its shape well, even after boiling or roasting. You can find them in season during the late spring and early summer.



Then, Prepare Your Potatoes



Step 1: Using a vegetable brush, scrub your potatoes under warm water.



Step 2: If desired, peel off the skin using a peeler or paring knife. You can also simmer the potatoes first, then peel with your hands.



Step 3: Dice, cube, or cut the potato into wedges or rounds, or keep it whole depending on the recipe.



Finally, Choose Your Cooking Method



1. Baked

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Place the whole potatoes on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour.


2. Microwaved

  • Pierce the potato skin several times with a fork.
  • Wrap the potato individually in foil and place it on the microwave oven rack.
  • Microwave on high for 5 to 10 minutes.


Ways to Use Baked or Microwaved Potatoes:



3. Roasted

  • Toss chopped or diced potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and any other seasonings of your choice.
  • Put the potatoes on a baking pan and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes at 400°F.


Ways to Use Roasted Potatoes:



4. Boiled

  • Place whole or cut potatoes in generously salted, boiling water.
  • Turn the water down to a gentle boil and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the type and the size of the potato pieces. Check frequently to avoid overcooking.


Ways to Use Boiled Potatoes:



5. Fried

  • Soak the cut potatoes in cold, salted water for 10 minutes.
  • Drain and thoroughly pat to dry.
  • Pour a 1/4 cup of peanut oil (or another high temperature oil) into a large, heavy cast iron or non-stick pan over high heat, and add the cut potatoes in batches.
  • Let the potatoes fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown.
  • Turn the heat down to medium, and cover for another two minutes.
  • Remove the potatoes from the oil with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towel-lined plate.
  • Season with salt and pepper.


Ways to Use Fried Potatoes:

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