Your Travelling Palate

Your Travelling Palate

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  1. Let’s take our palates to South America and give them a big THANK YOU for one of our favorites foods. The Potato!! Potatoes have been around for thousands of years. There are more than 4000 varieties of Potatoes. Potatoes are indigenous to the Andes Mountains of South America, where most varieties are still found. However, in North America, only a few varieties , can be boasted. No matter, Americans love our potatoes, right?

    I’m going to share some secrets with you. But first, let’s cover the boring part…

    Potatoes 101:

    Because they are extremely cold tolerant, they survive easily in cold climates and at high altitudes. This adds to their popularity world wide. And, while there are several thousand varieties, they basically break down to 3 “types”. 

    They are; “Starchy”  “Waxy” and “Mealy”.  Let me explain their differences and why you must choose the right potato for your specific purpose.

    Starchy potatoes are have a rough surface and, as the name implies, are very high in starch.  Their high starch content causes them to break down easily when cooked, but stays fluffy, making them ideal for mashed potatoes. Though high in starch, they are lower in sugar and moisture. An Idaho or Russet Potato (or baking potato) is a perfect example of a starchy potato. They are ideal for baking, mashing and french fries.

    Mealy potatoes, also called “boiling potatoes” have less starch content, but are also ideal for a dish that requires long cook time but holds their shape (as in soups and stews) A Russet is considered a “mealy” potato,  as is a purple or yellow/gold potato, . They are ideal for frying.

    Waxy potatoes have a smooth, shiny surface (again, as the name implies) and look as though they have been waxed.  They are high in sugar and moisture, but low in starch. They are ideal for soups, stews, potato salad, roasting, sauteeing and barbequing as they hold their shape well and endure when cooking. They are red potatoes (new potatoes), round white potatoes, yukon gold and fingerlings.

    So…here’s the deal…when frying …use a starchy/mealy potato, like and idaho or russet. When baking, use a russet. When making stews or soups…use a waxy potato like a red potato or yukon gold. When roasting, use red potatoes, fingerlings or round white. Mashed potatoes?  Use an idaho. Potato salad? Yukon gold or red potatoes. Hash browns? Use a russet or yellow/gold.

    Okay, so now let’s cover the cool part. Question: Are you worried about the amount of starch in potatoes?  Here’s your first “potato secret” (that almost no one knows) 

    Store potatoes in your refrigerator.  Chilling potatoes reduces their starch content by half.  How cool is that, right?  

    One more “secret” about potatoes…when cooking beans and other “gassy” foods and vegetables, throw a potato (it doesn’t matter which kind of potato) into your pot. The potato will absorb all of the “gas” and you will avoid the unpleasant after-affects of beans.  It works with Lima Beans, Northern Beans, Fordhooks, Chili Beans, etc.  Coolest thing ever, isn’t it? 

    An old wives tale says that “eating too many potatoes will make you short”. Who cares…I’ll wear high heels!!

    “Where does your palate want to go today?”

    Chef Sue Shattuck,  Your Travelling Palate 

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