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Boil those potatoes!


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I made dinner with a Portugese fellow a month ago. He cut up some yukon golds into roughly 3/4 inch squares (triangles? what would that shape be called?) boiled them in generously salted water till they were on the near side of cooked, drained them and then arranged them on a hotel pan with lots of olive oil, whole cloves of garlc and thyme, kosher salt. Then roast at very high temp or even broil. The oven bit is just for crisping/browning the surface, not cooking through as that's already been done.

Executed well, this method produces a very fine roasted potato. Very fine.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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I do them both ways - roasted raw or partially cooked depending on my mood and what I am trying to achieve - I find the results are different.

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)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I do them both ways - roasted raw or partially cooked depending on my mood and what I am trying to achieve - I find the results are different.

How so, Anna? Do you have a preference?

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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I do them both ways - roasted raw or partially cooked depending on my mood and what I am trying to achieve - I find the results are different.

How so, Anna? Do you have a preference?

No preference - I like them both but I find those that are pre-cooked tend to be drier and crisper than those that are roasted from the raw state. I roast both in duck fat.

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)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I made dinner with a Portugese fellow a month ago.  He cut up some yukon golds into roughly 3/4 inch squares (triangles? what would that shape be called?) boiled them in generously salted water till  they were on the near side of cooked, drained them and then arranged them on a hotel pan with lots of olive oil, whole cloves of garlc and thyme, kosher salt.  Then roast at very high temp or even broil.  The oven bit is just for crisping/browning the surface, not cooking through as that's already been done. 

Executed well, this method produces a very fine roasted potato.  Very fine.

Nice technique, I also sometimes boil potatoes before using them in other applications. One thing however, experiments were made with boiling potatoes in salt water that shows that the salt had no purpose at all. They showed that potatoes boiled in salt water did not pick up any salt. i.e. dont waste your salt for boiling potatoes.

Other common myths about salt water :

- Salt water does not boil faster, it sould actualy take longer to boil (since you have to heat water +salt rather then just water).

- Salt water does not boil at a signicatively higher temperature then unsalted water. Usual concentration of salt in water gets the boiling point of water up by about 1 degre celcius.

When you put salt in water, it is maily to salt the pasta or vegetable you cook in it. However potatoes dont pick up salt when boiled in a slat solution.

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The easiest way is to part cook the (flowery) potatoes.

Meanwhile heat up the oven with the roasting pan containing the fat as hot as the fat will allow.

Drain the potatoes when part cooked and the put the lid on the saucepan and shake them to roughen up the surface.

Put the potatoes into the hot fat and roll around so they are coated.

Put back into the oven and roast.

Get's them crisp everytime.

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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I do them both ways - roasted raw or partially cooked depending on my mood and what I am trying to achieve - I find the results are different.

How so, Anna? Do you have a preference?

No preference - I like them both but I find those that are pre-cooked tend to be drier and crisper than those that are roasted from the raw state. I roast both in duck fat.

Mmmm... potatoes + duck fat = bliss :wub:

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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I do this, too.  This is my recipe: My perfect roasted potatoes.

It is the only way I can successfully roast potatoes - good enough to please my English stepdad  :laugh: !  Kim

I usually roast my potatoes in duck fat, but I've always done them from a raw state. This looks really good Kim. I'll have to try it!

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 learned to pre-cook roast potatoes from a British friend. One of the important steps that I don't think has been mentioned is after draining the water off the potatoes, return them to the hot pan and shake them around a bit to rough up the outside. I think the idea is that some of the excess water evaporates off, leaving more of those heavenly crispy bits. :wub:

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I started using that method some years ago when Heston Blumenthal told his preference when doing roasted potatoes in this post.

I found it better than doing it from raw potatoes.

That was the exact technique I followed for my big Christmas Banquet this past year, except that I roasted the potatoes in goose fat (goose was the centerpiece) and they were downright mouthwateringly good. More trouble than I'd normally go to for roasted potatoes, but definitely worth it for a special occasion.

They probably wouldn't really be much trouble if I memorized the technique, though. Kinda like the way I do mashed potatoes -- if I were to write it down, it looks complicated, but if you do it enough you can go into "robot mode" and just churn 'em out.

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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I made dinner with a Portugese fellow a month ago. He cut up some yukon golds into roughly 3/4 inch squares (triangles? what would that shape be called?) boiled them in generously salted water till they were on the near side of cooked, drained them and then arranged them on a hotel pan with lots of olive oil, whole cloves of garlc and thyme, kosher salt. Then roast at very high temp or even broil. The oven bit is just for crisping/browning the surface, not cooking through as that's already been done.

Huh? My potatos boiled in salt are noticably salty. In fact, for masked potatos, I season the water to taste like the sea and the potatos come out perfectly salty with no need to salt post mashing.

PS: I am a guy.

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Writing from the UK, I have never even heard of roasting potatoes from raw. I steam or boil them, cut into large even chunks, add them to a tray of oil not much short of smoking, toss and place in a hot oven. They always come off with generous planes of crunchy skin and tender flesh inside.

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Huh? My potatos boiled in salt are noticably salty. In fact, for masked potatos, I season the water to taste like the sea and the potatos come out perfectly salty with no need to salt post mashing.

Well, I have found sources (all in french though) were Pierre Gagnaire, renound french chefs speaks of his collaboration with Hervé This, credited for popularising molecular gastronomy. He states that they found out that putting salt in water for cooking potates did not serve any perpous. The hypothesis for that is that the starch in the potates would take up water but not salt during the cooking process. I was, however, unable to find another source confirming that fact and describe the actual experiment that was made. The did not state if they let the skin on the potatoes before boiling them. I know "specialist" recomend boiling the potates and peel them after so the potatoes pick up less water. Maybe that is the diffrence.

If the above is true, which I am less and less certain, the salt in your mashed potatoes could come from residual salt water on the potatoes or in the botom of the pot when you mash them. Do you rince your potatoes and the pot (or change the pot) bofore mashing them?

I will try to conduct an experiment to demostrate that once,

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. . . .

Well, I have found sources (all in french though) were Pierre Gagnaire, renound french chefs speaks of his collaboration with Hervé This, credited for popularising molecular gastronomy.  He states that they found out that putting salt in water for cooking potates did not serve any perpous.  The hypothesis for that is that the starch in the potates would take up water but not salt during the cooking process.  I was, however, unable to find another source confirming that fact and describe the actual experiment that was made.  The did not state if they let the skin on the potatoes before boiling them. I know "specialist" recomend boiling the potates and peel them after so the potatoes pick up less water.  Maybe that is the diffrence.

If the above is true, which I am less and less certain, the salt in your mashed potatoes could come from residual salt water on the potatoes or in the botom of the pot when you mash them.  Do you rince your potatoes and the pot (or change the pot) bofore mashing them?

I will try to conduct an experiment to demostrate that once,

If I'm not mistaken, Harold McGee discusses the issue in the 2004 edition of On Food and Cooking.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Well, I have found sources (all in french though) were Pierre Gagnaire, renound french chefs speaks of his collaboration with Hervé This, credited for popularising molecular gastronomy.  He states that they found out that putting salt in water for cooking potates did not serve any perpous.  The hypothesis for that is that the starch in the potates would take up water but not salt during the cooking process.  I was, however, unable to find another source confirming that fact and describe the actual experiment that was made.  The did not state if they let the skin on the potatoes before boiling them. I know "specialist" recomend boiling the potates and peel them after so the potatoes pick up less water.  Maybe that is the diffrence.

If the above is true, which I am less and less certain, the salt in your mashed potatoes could come from residual salt water on the potatoes or in the botom of the pot when you mash them.  Do you rince your potatoes and the pot (or change the pot) bofore mashing them?

I will try to conduct an experiment to demostrate that once,

I find this kinda funny as there is an old wives tail that potatos put into a soup can absorb only the salt and not the water and help fix oversalting on a soup.

PS: I am a guy.

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1) Nigella Lawson boils first, then roasts in one recipe in Feast. She also rolls her triangular (hmmm...) bits in semolina before coating them with fat.

2) Regarding the current focus, cf. this thread and its experiments: click.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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So is the roasting time lessened by using pre-boiled potatoes?

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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For me, whether I boil or not before roasting boils down to how full the dishwasher is and whether I really am going to have room for an extra pot. Yes, they are someone different, but we enjoy both the raw-roasted and boiled-roasted. Yep, I'm lazy.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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For me, whether I boil or not before roasting boils down to how full the dishwasher is and whether I really am going to have room for an extra pot.  Yes, they are someone different, but we enjoy both the raw-roasted and boiled-roasted.  Yep, I'm lazy.

Susan, I would never think of a woman who can rip up flooring and drywall as "lazy". :cool:

You're not lazy. You just make efficient use of your time. Yeah, that's it. :laugh:

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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. . . .

Well, I have found sources (all in french though) were Pierre Gagnaire, renound french chefs speaks of his collaboration with Hervé This, credited for popularising molecular gastronomy.  He states that they found out that putting salt in water for cooking potates did not serve any perpous.  The hypothesis for that is that the starch in the potates would take up water but not salt during the cooking process.  I was, however, unable to find another source confirming that fact and describe the actual experiment that was made.  The did not state if they let the skin on the potatoes before boiling them. I know "specialist" recomend boiling the potates and peel them after so the potatoes pick up less water.  Maybe that is the diffrence.

If the above is true, which I am less and less certain, the salt in your mashed potatoes could come from residual salt water on the potatoes or in the botom of the pot when you mash them.  Do you rince your potatoes and the pot (or change the pot) bofore mashing them?

I will try to conduct an experiment to demostrate that once,

If I'm not mistaken, Harold McGee discusses the issue in the 2004 edition of On Food and Cooking.

Unfortunately not. That was the first place I looked when I saw this thread. McGee says spuds should be boiled in acidic water as opposed to salted to get a more even texture when the potato is cooked through, but he doesn't address Pielle's suggestion that salt in the boiling water makes no difference to flavour. If McGee is correct about the salt affecting texture, that would imply boiled potatoes do absorb salt.

I'm reluctant to dispute anything Pierre Gagnaire says, but given that salt is water soluble, if potatoes absorb water in boiling, they're logically likely to absorb anything dissolved in that water. I think Pielle is on the right track about this possibly being true for unpeeled boiled spuds, but not for peeled.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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Well I tested the salt theory last night. I can't speak for Chef Gagnaire but for me salted water yielded. . . salty boiled potatoes.

In re cooking time, yeah they cook much faster and at a way hotter temp than a roasted from raw tater.

Lately when cooking for just myself and my blushing bride I save cleaning a pot by broiling on tin foil in the toaster. Last night the potatoes were tossed in duck fat to go with cod poached in low temp duck fat.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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