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Boiling potatoes


seabream
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Most recipes that include boiled chopped potatoes call for boiling the potatoes first, and then chopping the potatoes to the desired size. Why not boiling the potatoes already chopped? The potatoes boil quicker, and cook more evenly. I am wondering if there's a reason why they should be boiled first. Any ideas?

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I have heard that boiling them skin on and whole leads to better texture and flavor, as much of the potato flavor escapes into the water when peeled and chopped beofre boiling. I have also heard it makes it easier to waterlog your potatoes when they are cut up.

I have never done a side by side comparison, these are just things I have overheard in the kitchen etc.

Edited by Twyst (log)
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I suspect it's a combination, but I bet 'most recipes' are geared towards the ham-handed (like me ;)). The finer the chop/dice, the more chance you're going to end up with disintegrated spuds.

If starchy water is integral to the dish, I'd expect some very specific instructions.

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I'd say depends on what you want to do as well. If you want nice potato pieces, I'd cook first, actually I'd steam or pressure cook them (best) and then cut them once they're cooled off a bit. For mashed I cut them into even size pieces though but I never cook them cut into small pieces. It might be interesting to see how that works with steaming or the pressure cooker and a steamer insert though.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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for me I've discovered that cut potatoes loose a lot o potato flavor into the water which you would discard. think making potato soup: its the broth you really are after.

I keep cutting my potatoes smaller and smaller for Mash as they do cook quicker, and over time notices those mashed were missing something: a lot of potato flavor. The cut potatoes also can absorb water and get water logged.

Heston B when making mash on one of his shows peels first but adds a lot of skin ( extra even ) to the water to maintain potato flavor. in the end he uses very little water.

I now never peel a potato, I microwave then carefully to get the cooking started, never too long then add those fairly warm potatoes to the now salted and boiling water. I save a little time, and perhaps a little energy. I know im not loosing much potato flavor to the water.

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try steaming them, or pressure cooking, if you have one. Did the pressure cooker recently, since I just got one. Best potatoes ever. Tasty, full of flavor, nice and waxy all through. Not sure if it was the cooker or the potatoes or both, have to repeat the experiment. But they were really good and could be sliced or cubed no problem.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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In Dublin, once a long time ago Mona's mum prepared boiled spuds in their skin (big), cabbage and boiled bacon along with a bottle of Guinness . I do not know what was the best part of the meal, Mona, Boiled spuds, cabbage, boiled bacon or the bottle of Guinness. That was in 65 and it lives with me still. Try slow boiling a large lumper for such a meal, you will be satisfied

Martial.2,500 Years ago:

If pale beans bubble for you in a red earthenware pot, you can often decline the dinners of sumptuous hosts.

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Try salt potatoes some time. It's a central/western New York specialty. Small waxy potatoes boiled whole and unpeeled in a VERY salty brine, and the salt makes the boiling point higher than it otherwise would be, so they cook differently than regular boiled potatoes (maybe akin to the pressure cooker), with a dense, creamy texture. Plus they have a wonderful salty skin when they've been left to dry for a few minutes.

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Try salt potatoes some time. It's a central/western New York specialty. Small waxy potatoes boiled whole and unpeeled in a VERY salty brine, and the salt makes the boiling point higher than it otherwise would be, so they cook differently than regular boiled potatoes (maybe akin to the pressure cooker), with a dense, creamy texture. Plus they have a wonderful salty skin when they've been left to dry for a few minutes.

I grew up in Western New York and we had them many times. Many times after boiling would put them in a frypan with some butter and lightly brown the skin, that made them really delicious especially with brown butter over them!

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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Try salt potatoes some time. It's a central/western New York specialty. Small waxy potatoes boiled whole and unpeeled in a VERY salty brine, and the salt makes the boiling point higher than it otherwise would be, so they cook differently than regular boiled potatoes (maybe akin to the pressure cooker), with a dense, creamy texture. Plus they have a wonderful salty skin when they've been left to dry for a few minutes.

I grew up in Western New York and we had them many times. Many times after boiling would put them in a frypan with some butter and lightly brown the skin, that made them really delicious especially with brown butter over them!

Now this sounds like something worth trying!

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I always cut first. I keep my pieces looking pretty by adding a tablespoon of vinegar to the water at the start. My potato salad is a knife skills showcase and looks like a bowl of mini blocks.

For mashed I cut in slices...bigger slices for russet than for the tougher yukon gold. I only add vinegar to those destined for potato salad which would be diced yukon golds.

I wonder, what does the vinegar do, and why? Does it work on all potato types, or only the waxier potatoes?

Try salt potatoes some time. It's a central/western New York specialty. Small waxy potatoes boiled whole and unpeeled in a VERY salty brine, and the salt makes the boiling point higher than it otherwise would be, so they cook differently than regular boiled potatoes (maybe akin to the pressure cooker), with a dense, creamy texture. Plus they have a wonderful salty skin when they've been left to dry for a few minutes.

WOW. That sounds delicious!

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I always cut first. I keep my pieces looking pretty by adding a tablespoon of vinegar to the water at the start. My potato salad is a knife skills showcase and looks like a bowl of mini blocks.

For mashed I cut in slices...bigger slices for russet than for the tougher yukon gold. I only add vinegar to those destined for potato salad which would be diced yukon golds.

I wonder, what does the vinegar do, and why? Does it work on all potato types, or only the waxier potatoes?

The pH of the water affects the rate of cell breakdown. Slightly acidic water will lead to firmer potatoes, slightly basic water leads to mushier.

PS: I am a guy.

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  • 1 month later...

don't boil them - steam them , taste is much better, won't fall apart, won't get waterlogged, retain vitamins better. steaming takes the same time as boiling. just wash, cut in half or may be 3 parts (about 2 inches square), do not peel. cover, steam for 25min over salted water. let cool slightly - peeling skin is a breeze then. i heard that irish never boil their potatoes.

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