The potato is one of the world's most popular vegetable, grown in almost every country. There are many different varieties, native to these countries. As a result of this, the potato suits most cooking styles and is perhaps the most versatile food available. We eat about 242lb 109kg per head per annum which us good news when you consider the nutritional properties of this vegetable. A serving of 8oz (225g) of potato contains around 180 calories and provides us with protein, emery rich starch and fibre, as well as being a good source of vitamin C. Most of the vitamins are just beneath the skin, which is why it is often suggested that potatoes are cooked in their skins.
Buying and storing potatoes
When choosing potatoes, make sure they are firm and well shaped with a smooth tight skin. New potatoes should be eaten as fresh as possible, but old potatoes can be stores in a cool, dark dry place, exposure to light makes them go green resulting a in unpleasant flavour.
Preparation and cooking potatoes
Early new potatoes, like Duke of York, Jersey potatoes have the best flavour and a firm texture. They should be scrubbed or scraped, never peeled, or boiled in their skins. They are excellent served cold in salads, but are probably the most delicious when boiled whole in lightly salted water, with a sprig of mint, until tender. Serve them tossed in butter.
Main-crop potatoes, like King Edward, Maris Pipper, Desiree have a floury texture. Rooster potatoes have a flourly yellow flesh is one of the tastiest potatoes, it is the best variety in Ireland. These potatoes should be scrubbed free of dirt, peeled, any eyes cut out, then cut into even sized pieces. Piece in cold water and boil for about 20 minutes. Potatoes of even size may also be boiled without peeling , and the skins removed after cooking and draining.
Boiled potatoes can be mashed with a fork or potato masher, and can be creamed with butter and milk, or cream. Duchesse potatoes are made from creamed potatoes enriched with egg. Pipe the potatoes into heaps about 2inches (50mm) high on a baking tray, and bake in a hot oven for 25 minutes, or until golden.
For fried or sautéed potatoes, boil the potatoes until tender, cut them in 1/4 inch (5mm) thick slices and shallow fry in hot fat over a moderate heat until they are golden brown and crisp. Serve sprinkled with coarse salt, parsley chives or marjoram.
To make chips, peel the potatoes, cut them into 1/4 – 1/2 inch (5 – 10mm) slices and cut these into (1/4 – 1/2mm) strips. Heat fat in a deep fat fryer to smoking point 196C (386F0 and lower the basket with a single layer of chips into the hot fat for 4-6 minutes. Drain thoroughly on absorbent paper, just before serving fry the chips for a further 1-2 minutes. Matchstick chips can be cut into tiny strips and cooked for about 3 minutes..
For roasting, peel the potatoes, cut them into even pieces, then par-boil for 5 minutes, drain and place round the roasting joint for 50-60 minutes. Baked potatoes in their jackets need at least 1 hour cooking.