Oh, potatoes. More than most have a love affair with the timeless spud, whether you hail from from Germany, China, or the States. It's hard to imagine a world without them. In my opinion, the humble potato is one of the few foods that truly deserves the reputation as a "survival food", by which I mean not only to pack them if you're going on a survival reality show, but also to rely on them to rescue you on a daily basis. Versatile, inexpensive, and undemanding, potatoes are a must-have in every home cook’s pantry.
All the Ways to Cook, Fry, and Roast Potatoes
Which type of potato lover are you?
Since they are a staple in many cuisines, potatoes are often relegated to side dishes, but we want to give them the attention they deserve (Julia Child had the right idea when she made The Potato Show in the 60s).
There are thousands of recipes with potatoes from around the world. To keep things simple, let’s think about the three main cooking methods: boiled the pot, fried in the pan, or the baked in the oven. We may not encompass all the ways possible to cook potatoes, but will give you new ideas to call on if you ever dare to think, “Ugh, potatoes are boring.” Plus, for all the potato lovers out there, read on to find out what your favorite way to cook potatoes says about you—though for all you sceptics, we promise our recipes are more than reliable.
Wait, which potato again?
Before we jump right into our potato recipes, let’s address some basic potato knowledge. Everyone has shopped for potatoes at least once, right? So you might not think you need further education. But when it comes to potato varieties, things can get a little confusing. If you buy the wrong type of potatoes and then are let down by the results, don't blame the potatoes—read on instead.
Choosing potatoes should be based on what you plan to cook. Potatoes are usually divided into three types according to starch content: high-starch, medium-starch, and low-starch.
High-starch potatoes are mealy and fluffy and are perfect for mashed potato, whole baked potatoes, and French fries. Russet potatoes are your typical high-starch potato.
Low-starch potatoes are also called waxy potatoes, which hold up best after cooked. This makes them fit best for salads and roasting.
Medium-starch potatoes, also known as all-purpose potatoes, have less starch than Russets but their shape well when boiled. The common type of all purpose potatoes, the Yukon Gold, is the safest type to buy when you haven't yet decided what to cook.
If you’re lucky enough to get in-season new potatoes, don't hesitate. Take a look at our new potato article to know more about them and exactly how to prepare them. For many dishes, especially baked potatoes or potato soups, you can also swap in sweet potatoes as a variation.
Shop for firm potatoes with smooth, unwrinkled skin. The best potatoes should not have any bruises, cuts or discolorations. Store potatoes in a dark, cool, and well-ventilated place at room temperature, where they can last from a week up to a month or even longer. If you spot eyes or sprouts are spotted, it means they need to be cooked as soon as possible, making sure to cut off any of these sprouts and eyes before cooking. It’s better to err on the side of safety and not eat any potentially poisonous potatoes that have turned green. If you want to prep the potatoes ahead, leave the peeled potatoes in cold water to prevent them from getting brown.
Now, let's see which type of potato lover are you?
What it says about your personality: If you’re the boiled potato type, you like to stick to classics or try to be on the safe side.
One of the easiest ways to prepare potato is to boil it. I know, some of you may roll your eyes reading this. Although boiling potatoes doesn't require fancy skills, it’s important to cook them right. Why? You don't want to regret this first step when tuck into your potato salad. It’s a skill you’ll be thankful to master it early in your cooking life.
How to cook potatoes
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The most common question is whether to boil potatoes with or without their skin. It depends, first of all, on the recipes and how you’d personally like them in the finished dish. Peeled and precut potatoes will cook faster than potatoes with skin, which is an excellent time-saving trick. But on the other hand, without skin, the potatoes will be more waterlogged in consistency.
In general, all kinds of potatoes can be boiled. If you’d like them to be side dish to meat mains or to use in a potato salas, use round waxy potatoes or all-purpose potatoes which hold their shape best after boiling. Be flexible with the cooking time rather than playing by the book too much, as the time varies according to the size and type. To check on their doneness, pierce them with a fork from time to time. The fork should slide out easily when the potatoes are cooked. For salads, the potatoes should be slightly resistant.
I try to avoid terms like the ‘one and only’, as there are so many variations around the world, but we did run a best ever potato salad contest with recipes by Kitchen Stories staff, and are happy to share the representatives from two continents here:
Mashed potato is listed as many people’s most favorite way to cook potatoes. It’s incredibly easy, satisfying, and filling. You can stick to the basics or be more creative with herbs (try parsley) and flavorings (what about truffle?). To go one step further, once you have the wonderful mashed potatoes, try our British shepherd’s pie recipe.
What it says about your personality: if you’re the pan potato type, you are spontaneous in life and in cooking and like to get things done quickly.
Things happen hot and fast in the frying pan. Easy pan-fried crispy potatoes are one of the best dishes for when you want to throw a weeknight dinner. Of course, there have been some debates about whether pan-frying or oven-roasting is better to make crispy potatoes. In our crispy potato guide, we covered both methods and everything you need to know to make the best crispy potato.
Once you have golden crispy pan-fried potatoes, you are only 2 steps away from this 7 ingredient-tortilla!
Potato pancakes are breakfast darlings around the world, whether they take the name of latkes, hashbrowns, rösti or gamjajeon. The ingredients may vary, but the love we share for crispiness is the same.
For those who crave extra crunchiness and are looking for an Asian-inspired potato dish, try this well-known and easy-to-make Chinese potato sticks. It just so happens to be which is also one of the first Chinese dishes I ever learned to cook.
What it says about your personality: If you are the oven potato type, you believe in sharing and caring, and you like to invest time in cooking.
I admit that it sounds a little oversimplified generalize here as the outcome of oven plus potatoes can be so different: crispy fries, creamy gratin or hearty baked potatoes. No matter which way, potatoes tend to be cooked in batches and sharing is involved. That’s why we assume that you like to cook for family and friends.
Roasting is one of the most straight-forward ways to make potatoes: just cut them, add any seasonings and oil, then roast— and a batch of irresistibly crispy potatoes is yours. Our chef Johanna gives a small tip here: Sometimes lowering the temperature and extending the time instructed by the recipe will create an even crispier skin. Small waxy potatoes can be put whole in the oven, while for with bigger starchy potatoes, it’s better to boil them briefly before roasting. Confident with classic rosemary roasted potatoes? Try out this Spanish variation:
Satisfying and warming potato gratin and casserole are perfect for family gatherings. Either start with a very basic one, or a quick colorful combination, or go all in with indulging meat and potato gratin. Freestyling a bit is also recommended: adding herbs, grated cheese to your liking and in-season vegetables to your gratin makes it more exciting. If you have not noticed yet, gratins are always among the most popular dishes on Kitchen Stories.
If you want to go with something fancy to impress your guests with the least effort, Hasselback potatoes should be your choice for your next dinner party.
Cooking potatoes in the oven doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t downsize them to a weeknight dinner for two, or even for one. Yes, I’m talking about the loaded baked potato. Try adding different fillings like guacamole, roast chicken, or couscous. It’s my favorite take away order from Berlin street vendors when I’m in a hurry and easy to replicate at home and top it with anything to your liking.
OK, last but least: fries. We know people are crazy about them, so it goes without saying that we have an all-encompassing guide for homemade fries. The classic pan or oven question is covered as well—it’s more to do with personal preference than an existential problem.
Upgrade your potato recipes
If your potato itch is not yet satisfied, try more dishes that integrate potatoes like classic German classic Schnupfnudeln or homemade gnocchi. You will love the results of the magical potato when it meets flour.
Which type of potato lover are you: pot, pan, or oven? Do you have any favorite potato tricks to share? Let us know in the comments!
Published on March 15, 2019