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5 Potato Preparation Techniques

August 13, 2012 Le Cordon Bleu Minneapolis/St. Paul 0 Comments

5 Potato Preparation Techniques

Potatoes are one of the world’s most versatile foods. They come in many colors and varieties and vary in size, texture, taste, shape and starch content. Although most often prepared as a side dish, they are just as versatile in everything from stews to omelets. Every Minnesota cooking school teaches a variety of techniques for preparing potatoes and once you learn these different preparation techniques you will find that keeping potatoes on hand will make it easy to enhance any number of recipes.

Buying and Storing Potatoes
Always start with the freshest potatoes available. Look for a firm, plump texture and avoid any blemishes, soft spots, sprouting buds or potatoes with wrinkled skin. Once you arrive home with your potatoes store them in a cool dry place, preferably in a basket so that they will have proper air circulation. Avoid keeping them in the refrigerator or in plastic and be sure to keep them away from onions as the gases they emit will speed up the decay of your potatoes. When preparing your potatoes the skin can either be removed with a peeler or for baked or broiled potatoes the skin is edible and can be left on just be sure to scrub them well under cold water to remove any dirt. If you do decide to peel your potatoes, soak them in a bath of cold water until ready to use. This will prevent any discoloring. If your potatoes have been in storage for a while use a paring knife to remove any spots or blemishes. Once your potatoes are prepped there are several culinary techniques you can use to cook them. The method of cooking you choose will dictate the best variety of potato for your recipe.

Boiling
Perhaps the most popular of all techniques, boiled potatoes make an excellent accompaniment to meat and poultry dishes and are also the necessary starting point for mashed potatoes. Round white, Yukon gold, new and red potatoes are all excellent choices when boiling and each will produce its own unique taste and consistency. Smaller potatoes can be boiled whole but it is recommended that larger varieties like Yukon golds be halved or quartered before being added to the pot. The smaller the pieces the faster they will cook; try to cut equal size pieces so that your entire pot will cook evenly. Potatoes are done when they can be pierced with a fork without resistance. Once drained, potatoes can be served with a drizzle of olive oil or mashed with milk and butter into a creamy consistency.

Baked
An American classic, baked potatoes can just as easily be served as a main course or as a side dish. Russet potatoes have the best texture for baking so they are most often used. For perfect baked potatoes at home pierce the skin with a fork and coat with a sprinkling of salt before placing in the oven. Cook for at least 45 minutes or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.

Fried
There is nothing more dear to the American heart than a perfect crisp golden French fry. To make perfectly fried potatoes at home chop or slice potatoes and soak in cold water for 10-15 minutes. Once you are ready to start cooking, remove potatoes from the water and pat dry with a paper towel. Before adding your potatoes to the oil, make sure it is very hot otherwise your potatoes will soak up too much oil and not become crispy. When potatoes reach a golden brown remove them from the oil and place them back on paper towels to remove any extra grease.

Grilled
With summer approaching it’s a great time to break out the BBQ and practice your grilling culinary techniques. The next time you are making hamburgers or hot dogs throw some potatoes on the grill as well for a quick and easy side dish. Small red potatoes are perfect for making shish kabobs and can be skewered whole with pieces of meat and vegetables. For larger potatoes try cutting them into wedges and tossing with oil and garlic. Place potatoes in large sheets of aluminum foil and seal off edges to make little packets that can be cooked on the grill just be sure to rotate them occasionally so that your potatoes cook evenly.

Potatoes are the perfect staple to keep on hand in your kitchen. They are as good fried for breakfast as they are mashed for dinner. With a little practice and experimentation you can develop an entire repertoire of potato recipes that you are sure to enjoy and if you would like to learn more about preparing different foods Minnesota cooking schools offer a variety of interesting and educational courses for you to try.

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Minneapolis/St. Paul offers culinary arts and pâtisserie and baking training programs in the Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota area. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Minneapolis-St-Paul for more information. 

Find disclosures on graduation rates, student financial obligations and more at www.chefs.edu/disclosures.  
Le Cordon Bleu® and the Le Cordon Bleu logo are registered trademarks of Career Education Corporation. Le Cordon Bleu cannot guarantee employment or salary. Credits earned are unlikely to transfer.

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