Let’s talk about the diversity of a potato.
I mean there are red potatoes, Yukon gold (fancy term for yellow), russets, white and even purple varieties. Literally there are thousands of varieties.
And just think of all the possible yummy foods you make with potatoes. French fries, mashed, scalloped, twice baked, hash brown, potato salad and even soup recipes come to mind when contemplating how to plate up tubers.
And let’s not forget how vital potatoes are in making vodka and other alcoholic beverages.
Cheers to that!
But did you know spuds are used in a variety of other ways?
According to the International Potato Center (yep a real organization with a website), potato starch is used by the pharmaceutical, textile, wood and paper industries as an adhesive, binder, texture agent and filler.
Some of these companies make wood products containing potato by-products.
That gives new meaning to the term home-fries doesn’t it?
Those potato peels we often discard are biodegradable and companies are now using them as a substitute for plastics in such things as disposable plates and utensils.
If it were up to me I’d add bacon to that and make those plates edible too, further eliminating any waste.
In Canada potato peels are fermented to produce fuel-grade ethanol.
I wonder if that keeps the car engine from SPUDdering!
Okay, I’ll stop with the bad puns, for now. Let’s get back to food shall we?
Any potato variety works when making French fries. A trick I learned from Guy Fieri (no I don’t know him personally. I just happen to watch all his shows on Food Network), is to cut the potatoes into fries and toss them in a bucket or bowl of cold water for at least an hour. This removes excess starch from the spud, preventing them from sticking together while they fry. It also makes for a crispier fry.
I find that red potatoes stand up better in soups and stews. They will soak up the flavors, but not fall apart.
I like using Yukon and russet potatoes when making mashed. After boiling I add some butter, heavy cream (instead of milk), a little bit of sharp cheddar, chives and a dollop of sour cream and mash away.
They are hard to find, but if you can get purple potatoes and you have a mandolin in your kitchen, you can make some truly amazing potato chips.
I leave the peel on and ALWAYS use the mandolin guard to avoid slicing my fingers. The kitchen mandolin is a great tool, but that blade is no joke and completely unforgiving. But it creates uniform and thin slices, perfect for homemade chips. After frying I prefer to sprinkle the chips with Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning. It make the chips stand out and pop with flavor.
My out-of-the-box potato creation is a layered chili potato. I cook this a lot when I have leftover chili.
I’ll bake a few potatoes the night before making this recipe and let them chill overnight in the fridge. The next day I cut the potatoes into half-inch thick round wedges and fry them until they are crispy. I place some olive oil in my cast iron skillet. I lay down a layer of the fried potatoes, top with cheese, chili and bacon bits. Then add the second layer of potatoes and repeat. Place that in the oven at 375 degrees and cook for about 15 minutes.
It warms the heart and fills the belly for sure. What’s your favorite tater recipe?