Helpful Hints for Cooking Potatoes

by Annette Welsford No Comments
roast potato1
There are many different ways to cook potatoes, ranging from straightforward boiling, baking, roasting and frying, to some rather elaborate recipes that call for a host of other ingredients to be added to the potato. These helpful hints relate to some of the most basic methods of cooking potatoes successfully.

Ten Top Tips for Cooking Potatoes

  1. When you boil potatoes always place them in a pot of cold water. If you start with boiling water they will cook unevenly from the outside in. This is one of the most common reasons why.
  2. You can peel potatoes before you boil them; alternatively boil with the skin on, allow to cool, and then simply peel the skin off with your fingers.
  3. The best way to mash boiled potatoes is with a fork or a potato masher. If you purée potatoes in a food processor or blender it because starchy and gluey. Add butter and cream or milk to the potato during the mashing process to add richness.
  4. One method of cooking that is not recommended for potatoes is steaming. They are simply too starchy for steaming to be successful.
  5. If you are going to bake potatoes, leave the skin on (even if you don't intend to eat it). Apart from the fact that there is loads of goodness just under the skin, the skin holds the potato together. Once the potato is soft enough to insert a sharp skewer all the way through, remove from the oven and slice in half lengthways. Then serve with a knob of butter or a spoonful of cream cheese. Alternatively removed the pulp, season and then mash with chopped spring onion or some crispy bacon, or even with a little grated cheese. Spoon the flesh back into the skin and pop under a hot grill for a few moments.
  6. When you deep fry potato chips, always use fresh oil. There's nothing worse than the flavour of old oil! Also prepare your potatoes a good hour before you are going to cook them, and leave them to soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain the raw chips. Pat dry with a clean cloth, and then wrap in another clean cloth for another 30 minutes before cooking.
  7. The oil or fat you fry potato chips in should reach around 350 °F / 17 °C before you start cooking. If you don't have a thermometer, drop one chip into the fat when you think it is ready. It should rise to the surface and start bubbling gently.
  8. Double-frying chips makes them crisp and deliciously golden. Fry first until they are soft but not coloured. Then reheat the oil or fat to between 360 and 375 °F (22-30 °C) and fry, this time until golden brown. 
  9. Why is it that some roast potatoes are more delicious than others? Two proven methods of cooking are:  First peel and blanch the potatoes (which should be evenly sized) by putting them into cold water and bringing it to the boil. Drain and scratch the surfaces of the potatoes lightly with a fork. Cook in the oven in fat or oil, basting regularly until the potatoes are cooked and well browned. OR  Peel potatoes and slice in halves or quarters, depending on their size.  Preheat the oven to 660 °F / 190 °C. Sprinkle a little salt on the potatoes and then drizzle with a generous amount of virgin olive oil. Roast until golden brown. The outside should be crisp and the inside soft and yummy.
  10. Sauté potatoes by first boiling them in their skins. Cool, peel and slice. Then deep fry in oil until golden brown and crisp. You can do both chips and fake "roast" potatoes this way. Alternatively scoop potato balls with an appropriate cutter and then sauté these Parisienne style.
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