Wednesday, April 16, 2008

the amazing russet potato

I think russet potatoes have gotten a bad deal in the last few years. People are really hyped about waxy potatoes like red and Yukon golds and the poor russet potato has gotten lost in the chaos. I believe that, if handled properly, the russet potato is the most versatile and delicious of potatoes. Consider that you can use them to make hash browns, french fries, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, garlic roasted potatoes, potato skins, and even that Midwest Christmas favorite, twice baked potatoes. No other potato can boast this long list of possibilities! Also, they are generally cheaper than their waxy counterparts. The following are just two recipes with russets. Cottage fries or as my husband calls them - breakfast potatoes. They are like french fries but smaller and have more exterior to interior ratio. This means they have more crispy happiness to offer. They are delicious.

The recipe -
2 large russet potatoes, washed but not peeled
2 cups of vegetable oil
You need a candy thermometer or just a really good sense of oil temperature
The secret to any good fried potato is to cook it twice!
Heat the oil to 325. While heating, cut the potatoes into strips and then into cubes about 1/2 inch square. Do not wash or rinse the potatoes. Place the potatoes carefully into the oil and cook for about 7 minutes or until they are pale and soft. Remove to a plate to drain and cool - spread them out in a single layer if you can to help cool them. Increase the burner temperature so as to heat the oil to 375 degrees. Carefully submerge the potatoes into the oil and cook for another 5-7 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain. Season with salt while the fries are hot. Enjoy!

Yummy sour cream mashed potatoes

2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup sour cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place potatoes in a bowl and wash under cold, running water until water runs clear. This step is so important so really rinse them until the water runs clear since this will remove a lot of the starch and make the finished potatoes light and fluffy instead of thick and gluey. Place in a medium saucepan with salt. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and put them back into the pot and back over low heat to dry completly. This should only take a couple of minutes but you will know for sure when you do not hear water sizzling in the pan any longer. While potatoes are still warm, mash using a masher, fork, whisk or potato ricer. Never, never put them in the food processor. Never. They turn to gummy stuff. Ok, maybe gently in the food processor... but really it's best to never try it.

In a medium saucepan, warm sour cream and butter. Fold warm sour cream mixture into potatoes, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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