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Know Your Potatoes: Choosing the Right Potato for Your Dish

Know Your Potatoes: Choosing the Right Potato for Your Dish

Our handy guide to choosing the right spud for every occasion

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There’s not much you can’t do with a potato; mashed, fried, roasted, grated, sliced, baked or boiled. Their versatility and ability to carry flavor and bolster a dish has made them a staple favorite around the world. But they aren’t all the same, and choosing the right potato for your dish is important when looking to achieve a certain result. If you want to make the best mashed potatoes, fries or gratin, you need to pay attention to the variety of your spuds. Read on for the A-Z on potato varieties and why they matter. But first, a quick note on seasoning

When cooking potatoes, undoubtedly the most important factor to consider is seasoning and flavoring. If you don’t adequately salt and spice your potatoes, you will be left with underwhelming, bland spuds every time. To take the guesswork out, we’ve put together four of our favorite Kitchen Stories spice blends to take your potato game to the next level. Our Pflanzen Power set contains Veggie Wunder, perfect for pan fried and baked potatoes, Avocado Dreams, for sprinkling on oven chips and fries, Tofu Lover for your Asian-inspired creations, and Dressing Up to finish your potato salad the right way.

Try the spice mixes from our Plant Power Spice Set!

Pflanzen-Power set

Pflanzen-Power set

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Understanding the basics

There are three main kinds of potatoes you will find in supermarkets; waxy, floury and all-rounders. Waxy potatoes (such as New Potatoes, Annabelle, Drillinge or Fingerling) hold their shape after cooking, making them perfect for potato salad, gratin and pan fried potatoes. Floury potatoes (such as Russet, Adretta, and Naturella) are fluffy and absorbent, so they’re a great choice for mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, oven chips, and fries. All-rounders are, as expected, great all round. They sit somewhere in the middle and can be used in a great variety of dishes. Examples include Yukon Gold, Desirée and Saskia.

Confused? Use our handy chart to find the perfect potato for your dish. If you’re cooking a recipe that calls for a specific variety that isn’t available to you, substituting in another from the same category is a fairly safe bet.

Floury Potatoes

Russet, Adretta, and Naturella

Floury, or 'starchy', potatoes are high in starch and low in moisture content, so the skins split and the inside fluffs up when cooked, leading to creamy, crumbly insides. These varieties are perfect for mash and potato purée, as well as baked potatoes, oven chips and fries.

They also work well in blended soups, where their creaminess can help thicken up and smooth out your broth, without the use of cream. Try them in this puréed potato soup with fried porcini mushrooms, horseradish mashed potatoes with meatballs, or these crispy, oven-baked glass potatoes.

With this in mind, floury potatoes should be avoided any time you want your potatoes to hold their shape after cooking. For potato salad or pan fried potatoes, look instead for a waxy potato.

Waxy Potatoes

New Potatoes, Annabelle, Drillinge or Fingerling

Thin, smooth skin and shiny flesh are common in waxy potato varieties. They also tend to be smaller and always have low starch and high moisture content.

These potatoes retain bite and structure after cooking, so cubes or slices hold their shape well in dishes such as potato salad, pan fried potatoes, gratin or Spanish potato tortilla. They also work well cubed in chunky, unblended soups. We love them in these crispy potato stacks, pesto potato salad, and potato skillet with chorizo and feta.

Waxy potatoes are less suited to creamy mash or purée, unless you’re looking for a chunkier result.

All-rounder Potatoes

Yukon Gold, Christa, Granola, or Laura

These are the all-purpose, in-between kind of potatoes. Not too firm or waxy, and not too fluffy or starchy. These work in most applications and are a great option if you want to buy a bag of potatoes to see you through a week of different dishes.

They may not make the creamiest mash of your life, but it will be smooth nonetheless. Likewise, they may not hold their shape in a potato salad as well as a true waxy spud, but they won’t fall apart completely. Their real strength is convenience and versatility, making them a household favorite for many families.

What if I don’t have the right kind of potato?

Worry not! Cooking with a less-than-ideal potato is no great issue. A few clever tweaks to your recipe (or the angle of your dish) should be more than enough to keep things on track.

Potato salad made with floury potatoes may mean they fall apart a little, but this can be mitigated by cooking them a little less so the inside stays al dente. Or, embrace a softer, creamier potato salad, served alongside a crunchy salad and crisp fried schnitzel.

Making mash with waxy potatoes? Instead of striving for a totally smooth purée, lean into the chunkiness and make a semi-smooth smashed potato, laden with butter and salt. Fried potatoes or oven chips with waxy potatoes will be a little denser and lack the fluffy interior, but you may notice a strong potato-ey flavor which can also be nice!

Go forth on your culinary journey confident in your ability to choose the right potato for each of your creations. If in doubt, remember that waxy potatoes hold their shape (think of a wax figure at Madame Tussauds!), while floury ones turn soft, creamy and fluffy when cooked. And all-rounders are somewhere in the middle.

With this in mind, each potato can step proudly into its own role in your kitchen. And if things don’t quite work out, and your fries are dense and your mash is lumpy, fall back on good seasoning; salt, herbs and spices will do wonders to rectify any potato situation. Experiment and explore the flavors and textures that leave you and your guests coming back for more. Happy cooking!

Step up your potato routine with our Plant Power Spice Set!

Pflanzen-Power set

Pflanzen-Power set

FROM KITCHEN STORIES

Check it now

Published on October 20, 2023

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