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Q&A -- The Potato Primer

54 posts in this topic

I have question on sweet potatoes. I just bought some to make sweet potato pies, but they're really big. Is the flavor more intense the smaller they are? These are about the size of a pint and a half, if that makes any sense.

I just answered my own question.

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I am intrigued by the mashed potatoe instructions in the primer and would love to try it out. However, I absolutely must make the potatoes ahead of time - will this work? The recipe I clipped originally said I could make them ahead of time and reheat in the oven, so I am thinking to use the boiling method from the primer and then follow the recipe the rest of the way? Any input on how this will work or how I need to adjust things to make it work. (i.e. add more liquid)

My entire family is coming to stay with me in NYC for the holiday for the first time and with a 65+ hour work week I am overwhelmed. Thanks all for your input.

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I am intrigued by the mashed potatoe instructions in the primer and would love to try it out. However, I absolutely must make the potatoes ahead of time - will this work? The recipe I clipped originally said I could make them ahead of time and reheat in the oven, so I am thinking to use the boiling method from the primer and then follow the recipe the rest of the way? Any input on how this will work or how I need to adjust things to make it work. (i.e. add more liquid)

My entire family is coming to stay with me in NYC for the holiday for the first time and with a 65+ hour work week I am overwhelmed. Thanks all for your input.

The beauty of this mathod is that you can absolutely make them ahead of time, let them go cold and reheat without fear of off-tastes or glue.

Lots of ways to reheat, but you need to guard against the surface drying, so butter it. A microwave is probably the quickest and simplest, otherwise steam, or stir in a pan on the stove over low heat with some extra milk, or in a covered dish in the oven, and stir before serving...

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mmmmmmmmm chip butties - an absolute must here is Australia as a hangover cure (with a can of coke!!). Bread must be absolutely fresh and the chips your own to work properly but well worth the effort. A "proper" chip buttie should be eaten over the sink to catch the butter and sauce drips.

Thank you jackal10 for this amazing primer. I make the latkes for dinner last night and, as per you suggestion, left out my usual egg and flour. I must say it improved the taste/texture/experience for me. Please feel free to do any other primer you see fit - you are now my new "guru".

Would you consider one on "traditional" english fare - yorkshire pudding, toad-in-the-hole, treacle tart, spotted dick etc. I have recipes from my grandmother but am loath to try as her batting average is fairly low (enthusiastic but bad - think she wrote her mother's english recipes down "slightly" wrong). Love your work and desparately want your garden (not possible in our hemisphere).

Again, thank you. :biggrin:


Edited by misgabi (log)

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Would you consider one on "traditional" english fare - yorkshire pudding, toad-in-the-hole, treacle tart, spotted dick etc.

I'll put it on the list for next year...

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:biggrin: Thank you Jackal. Alot of detailed information. Your classes are

so GREAT it looks like I will be needing more ink on my printer! I watch my

carbs too, and use mostly celery root. But I will try to incorporate some of

the potato ideas to celery root. I saw a demonstration on t.v. with using

a potatoe ricer, (I have one) and they recommended putting the potatos

through the ricer TWICE for the most tender potatoes, have you tried this?

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Thanks.

I'm sure putting the potatoes thru the ricer twice will make the puree smoother.

Some people sieve it as well.

Personally I prefer the slight changes in texture (OK, the lumps) that mashing with a hand masher or a fork produces. If I'm preparing a large amount, or want it smooth for piping I'll use a hand electric whisk.

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Jackal,

Another amazing lecture. I made you latkes using yukon gold potatoes last night and they were fantastic. I did add a little bit of egg white since I was apparently very efficient at squeezing out the juices and the mixture was too dry. (and wouldn't stick)

They were great. What a great base to work with for appetizers as well. I added smoked salmon and dill sour cream to some, Cheddar cheese to some. Blue cheese crumbles and cayenne pepper sauce (latter 2 quickly flashed under the broiler).

I plan on trying some other recipes this weekend. I really feel like I understand the potato now. :smile:

Msk

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Has anyone ever actually had a baked potato explode in the oven?

I have baked many potatoes without pricking them, and never had any that detonated.

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Just scarfed down two potato latkes made according to your recipe using Idaho potatoes. These were the best latkes I have ever made. Though the mixture seemed on the dry side, it held together and made crispy, tasty latkes. And what could be easier (or cheaper!). Thanks, Jack.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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How long can you hold spuds that have gone through the first stage of the mash technique (the 160F stage)? Can you freeze? Fridge?


Jake Parrott

Ledroit Brands, LLC

Bringing new and rare spirits to Washington DC.

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A few days in the fridge.

They won't freeze: freezing punctures the cells.

You can dry them, however - that is how dried mashed potato is made, but you will lose some taste as the volatiles escape and they oxidise slightly. The dry product has a long life.

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Recipes from this course are now located in RecipeGullet. I've included a link back to this course in the indroduction of each recipe.

(there are a couple of other eCGI potato recipes in this link. That's just the way the search works folks :biggrin: )


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Jack - I used your double cook mash technique last night with Charlotte potatoes (which I was sure were going to turn into glue) and they were some of the best puree I've ever had.

I cooked them twice, rinsing them inbetween, then dried them over heat (which I read in Robuchon), pushed them through a ricer (only once alas), whipped in Blumenthal quantities of butter (had to weigh the potatoes first to make sure), and let them go cold and sit for over an hour. Then, when the rest of dinner was ready, I heated some whole milk to boiling, turned on the heat under the potatoes, and slowly incorporated the milk, whipping the potatoes with a whisk (Loufood/Robuchon), until I had the consistency I required.

They were unbelievable. Light as air. No heaviness whatsoever. Took me longer to do, but the finished result was extraordinary. Thanks Jack - that's two for two (after the long cooked leg of lamb).


"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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And Heston Blumenthal thinks so too! Monster Mash.


"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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Heston Blumenthal adds drying stages. After much experimentation, he finds the best way to dry them is to put the chips on a cake rack in the fridge for some hours. One problem with this is that the cold can increase the sugar content of the potato, which means they tend to colour before crisping.

Heston, at the recent Manoir even, said that he's taken to using a dessicator to dry out the chips before frying. He said it kept the end result crispy for longer (and made Pierre Troisgros wince from the hearing).


"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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For Chateau potatoes, the "cover and cook on low heat" technique sounds a lot like cooking a stew. I cook all my stews in the oven at about 225-250F, which is enough once it starts simmering. What oven temp would maintain the right cooking environment when the medium is butter?


Jake Parrott

Ledroit Brands, LLC

Bringing new and rare spirits to Washington DC.

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I've not tried it but I expect that cooking at 250 in the oven will work, but take a long time to brown, and while delicious may not be the same as chateau cooked on the stovetop. Toss them in butter over high heat first to initiate browning. 300F might be a better oven temperature, above the temperature where Maillard browning speeds up (285F). Why not try and let us know the results.

Chateua potatos are not oven roast. The browning comes from frying/contact grilling rather than from air temperature, so that is why they are usually cooked in a covered pan on the stovetop. Dropping them in the deep fat fryer is only for low end operations...

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Sorry, I did mean to imply to cook _covered_ in the oven.


Edited by jparrott (log)

Jake Parrott

Ledroit Brands, LLC

Bringing new and rare spirits to Washington DC.

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Great Ideas.

The low temp par boiling is a technique too few chefs utilize. Many I speak with look at me with a confused look when speaking of starch cells & granules. I must say I take this a bit further.

After completing the double blanching, I send my potatoes and about 5% butter through the ricer. I never beat, fold or touch my mash with a spoon. I put the mash back into the ricer up to 4 times so the butter completely incorporates. Whatever ingredients are used in my mash is sent through the ricer. I use our regular Kosher sea salt but “powderize” it with a coffee grinder. If the salt does not dissolve, the salt granules sometime clump and present themselves as lumps.

Sometimes I will serve the puree by plating directly from a hand held potato masher while moving on top of the plate. The potatoes almost appear as linguine on the plate. I've done this with three different colors (orange, purple & white). I’ll sometime plate the protein directly in the middle

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I have a question Jack. I'm making the rosti tonight, but you don't note whether the rosti is cooked in oil or butter or nothing?


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I have a question Jack.  I'm making the rosti tonight, but you don't note whether the rosti is cooked in oil or butter or nothing?

Personal choice. Oil, or oil and butter usually, but I'd cook them in goose fat

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No goose fat, but I do have beef fat!


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Jackal10, I gained a lot of Hollandaise knowledge from one of your sauce primers. So when I saw this one, I hoped maybe I could finally figure out how to make some proper, fluffy mashed taters. I had some problems...

If they were under-cooked, or done with a hand masher, they tended to be lumpy. If they were over-cooked, or done with an immersion blender (an electric whisk would make a LOT more sense), they'd be gluey. Using a hand masher, and cooking the taters a lot still created a liquidy result, so I tried steaming them -- reasoning that immersing them in liquid got them water-logged. That seemed to help, but it still wasn't right.

Then a friend of mine made some excellent, fluffy mashed taters -- and I was extremely impressed, asking how he'd done it... Well, it turned out his secret was simply just a damn ricer! I've been obsessing with mashed taters for a while (just like I did with Hollandaise), and I'd tried a lot of different combinations. It really bugs me that a ricer could make such a big difference. I mean, a potato masher serves only one single purpose -- a ricer, at least you can do a few other things with -- so why the hell would anyone ever buy a potato masher?

So, with that in mind, I went ahead with your recipe -- not because I needed mashed taters, but just as an experiment. My mashed potato attempt was a failure, but as an experiment -- like any -- it was a success: I learned something.

Maybe it was the type of taters I used (pretty old, getting to the bottom of the bag sort of deal), I don't know. But the potatoes didn't cook through. I examined them with a thin knife after both simmer session, and they seemed done after the second one -- however, the picture you captioned, "Drain, and allow to dry and cool for a few minutes. Note how the slices have begun to break up" should have been a warning to me -- I could slide a knife through very easily, but they had not began to break up at all. Once I started mashing them, it became clear that they weren't done -- well, they might have been done, but not ready to become fluffy mashed potatoes.

The result was lumpy -- uncooked lumpy bits. Obviously, since others have reported great success with this recipe, the result wasn't due the recipe. So this isn't meant as a critique, but merely as a constructive observation. Maybe it was the potatoes I used, or my electronic thermometer was off (I stayed by the stove and continually adjusted the heat, and managed to keep it within 2-4 degrees of the mark the entire time) or who knows, humidity or crop circles. But it didn't cook through completely. So constructively, if I could suggest something that might be added to this excellent primper, I'd say that if the slices have not begun to break up after the second simmering period, they need to simmer some more, until they do.

Now, since this produced a lumpy result, I tried an immersion blender to see what that would do to it. It didn't exactly turn gluey, but it became a helluva lot less fluffy.

My conclusion from this experiment is that steaming significantly reduces their water-logging tendencies. You're two-step, slow-cooked simmering method does it even more. But you still need to ensure that the taters are properly cooked, and have started to break up before you go at it.

The final observation is slightly depressing: that a ricer has a far greater impact on the fluffy-ness of the end result, than an hour-long, two-step, carefully monitored cooking process -- or steaming them.

A final note is that I really hate the notion that I need such a special piece of gear to properly cook something. So I will surely repeat this experiment a few times yet -- and I'll report back.

Oh and thanks again for a great primer.

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Is it better to refrigerate the retrograded mashed potatoes before or after the dairy is added?

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