A potato is a potato, right? That’s what I’ve always thought, anyway.
I guess that’s what happens when you marry a chef. Everything you think you know about cooking goes out the window…
I recall the first holiday meal we prepared together. There was much debate on what was the right potato for the job. My loving and sometimes patient husband took the time to explain to me why the potato matters, and that not all potatoes are created equally.
He will now enlighten you.
All Potatoes are NOT Created Equally
by: Scott Filut
Potatoes, one of America’s favorite foods. We fry them, bake them, and boil them to perfection trillions of times a year.
When it comes to staple foods, most people like what they like. Either they are Idaho potato people or they are Yukon Gold potato people. What most people don’t know is that there are hundreds of varietals of potatoes, each one with a perfect fit for a few dishes.
It is true that any potato can be used for any job. So what makes one different from another? Let’s start at the top and break it down.
Basically there are two general types of potatoes, starchy and waxy.
Starchy potatoes include Idaho, Russet, Green Mountain, and any other potatoes that get light and fluffy when they are cooked. Potatoes in these categories have cells that separate when cooked resulting in the lighter or fluffy texture. These hold up well to frying and baking.
Waxy potatoes include Yukon Gold, Kennebec, Russian Bananas, Rose Finn Apple, Carola (the best ever – IMHO), most red varieties, many purple varieties, and any other potato that holds its shape and is more dense when cooked. Potatoes in this category have a higher moisture and sugar content. This results in a creamier product when cooked. They are best boiled and then made into a salad or mash.
That’s right these are the best for mashing. No matter what anyone says about starchy potatoes able to soak up more cream and butter, a properly cooked waxy potato (boiled just until fork tender) will always result in a better product. The best way to do this is to use Carola potatoes. I swear, once you do this you will never go back.
Most big grocery chains usually carry the mass produced potatoes because they can get them at a lower price. If you really want fresh potatoes, you need to search for local farm stands and farmer’s markets. This is also a great way to not only support local business, but engage with your local farmers. Most of the time they have regional varietals of not only potatoes but many vegetables that you may have never heard of before.
So there you have it, friends. Straight from Captain Cheffypants. Do you have a favorite potato? Did you even know there were so many choices? If you have a favorite potato recipe – feel free to share below!
photo source: Wikipedia