Thursday, August 11, 2011

One Potato, Two Potato, Red Potato, Blue Potato…

Yes, there are blue potatoes, though they are really more purple-colored.  You may have never eaten a purple potato but almost everyone has eaten a Russet (also known as an Idaho even if it doesn't come from Idaho) . Russets are “baking” potatoes but for cooking, they are the go-to potato. They can be baked, fried – Russets are used to make French fries, mashed, boiled. If you are looking for a single potato that is good for nearly everything, it’s the Russet. They are starchy which is why they bake up all fluffy and turn into silky smooth mashed potatoes.


Potatoes with less starch are called “waxy” potatoes. They hold together better so they are great for roasting, boiling and potato salad.  They make decent mashed potatoes, but they are not as smooth as Russets. Red-skinned potatoes and yellow potatoes, like Yukon Golds, are waxy potatoes.

Blue potatoes are the waxiest of all so don’t try to make mashed blue potatoes. They’ll look cool but the texture is often lumpy and not at all smooth.

No matter what the color of your potatoes, you should store them in a cool, dry and dark place. You may be tempted to put them in the refrigerator but this isn't recommended. Potatoes convert starch to sugar in cold temperatures, and sweet-tasting potatoes are just weird.

Here's a simple microwave recipe for potatoes. They don't brown up like oven-roasted potatoes; the peel is left on to give them some color. But they still taste good, clean-up is very easy and they take a couple of minutes of prep and 11 minutes of cooking/standing.

Microwave "Roasted" Potatoes
(serves 3-4)

Though the recipe calls for oregano, it's just as good with other dried herbs such as thyme, basil or rosemary. Make sure to crush them to release their fragrant oils.

2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large Russet potatoes, washed, unpeeled and cut into 1/4" thick slices
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed in your palm

Put garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 2 quart microwaveable casserole. Microwave 1 minute, serving once. Stir in potatoes. Cover and microwave on high for 3 minutes, stir. Re-cover and cook on high for another 4 minutes, until centers are just tender. Let stand, covered, for 3 minutes.

Stir in salt, pepper, and oregano. Serve.

Tip: It's easier to stir the potatoes if you keep most of them on end rather than laying them flat.

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