Beginners guide to cooking potatoes

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Beginners guide to cooking potatoes

Potatoes are so versatile, and a valuable accompaniment to any meal, a warm potato bake on a cold winters evening, or a light and tasty potato salad during the height of summer. Whatever the recipe, potatoes are a useful staple all year round.

Firstly

When buying potatoes, choose the ones that are firm and plump, avoiding those that have shriveled skins, sprouting eyes, soft spots, blemishes and green spots.

Store your potatoes in a cool dry place after purchasing them. They will keep at room temperature for up to two weeks and longer. Remove them from any plastic packaging or plastic containers for better air circulation. It is not necessary to store the potatoes in the fridge.

As a rule of thumb, when working out quantities for catering, a large potato per person is always a safe estimate.

Mashed Potato

Mashed potato is the perfect comfort food. Follow these simple instructions to make plain mashed potato, and experiment with adding different ingredients for variety and flavour – such as herbs, cheddar cheese, garlic, mustard or even corned meat.

Method:

  1. Peel potatoes and cut them into large chunks, either halved or quartered depending on the size of the potato, place them in a pot and cover them with rapidly boiling water and a pinch of salt
  2. Bring the potatoes to the boil under an angled lid, allowing steam to escape.
  3. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 30 min or until cooked through, press a fork into a potato, it should go in easily.
  4. Drain water off when done and put back on stove on very low heat to allow excess water to evaporate.
  5. Add salt, pepper, a tablespoon of butter and ˝ to 1 cup of warm milk (depending on how many potatoes you have cooked) and mash with a hand-held masher or a fork.

Chips

Although ready-made frozen potato chips are available in practically every grocery shop nowadays, nothing beats the taste of those made from scratch at home. The secret to perfect chips is to double fry them, as this results in a soft moist centre and a lovely crunchy outer skin.

Method:

  1. Peel your potatoes and cut them into chunky strips.
  2. Wash them to remove some of the starchy residue, and pat dry with kitchen towel.
  3. Cook them in a deep fryer at 120°C for 4-5 minutes to soften
  4. Remove and drain off the excess oil and leave to cool
  5. Return the chips to the fryer and cook in 180°C oil for a further 5-6 minutes to get that crispy texture.
  6. Drain on a kitchen towel, season with a little salt and serve.

Potato Bake

A South African braai just wouldn’t be the same without a creamy potato bake! Follow this tried and tested recipe and feel free to add other ingredients such as mushrooms, ham, or even sweet corn.

You will need:

  1. A large potato per person catered for or 5 – 6 large potatoes to fill a medium sized oven dish
  2. 1 large onion sliced into rings
  3. 250ml cream
  4. Powdered chicken stock like Ina Paarman or a packet of powdered white onion soup
  5. Grated Cheddar cheese Half a packet of bacon bits or a half packet of streaky bacon diced

Method:

  1. Peel and slice all the potatoes into thin disks or scallops
  2. Fry off the bacon, drain off the excess oil on some kitchen towel and place to one side
  3. In a medium to large sized oven dish, place a layer of potatoes, a light sprinkle of stock/soup, few onion rings and a sprinkle of bacon to cover the bottom of the dish. Repeat this process to form as many layers as the dish will allow
  4. Now pour over the cream, place the lid on or cover with with alluminium foil and bake in a 180 Celsius oven for 40 minutes.
  5. Take off the lid, add a layer of grated cheddar cheese and place back in the oven for a further 15 minutes or so until the cheese has melted
    Roast Potatoes

One of life’s great pleasures is eating perfectly made roast potatoes with your Sunday carvery or Christmas dinner, especially when accompanied with a rich, savoury gravy, yum. The rule of a large potato per person will apply here when working out quantities

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Peel potatoes and cut them into large chunks, either halved or quartered depending on the size of the potato
  3. Place into a large pot and cover with rapidly boiling water.
  4. Bring the potatoes to the boil under an angled lid, allowing steam to escape.
  5. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes are slightly tender but not completely cooked through
  6. Drain the potatoes in a colander
  7. Sprinkle flour over and shake the potatoes up a bit to roughen their surfaces (this will make them crunchy when roasted).
  8. Pour olive oil into a large roasting pan (you can heat the oil up in the oven before adding the potatoes)
  9. Add the potatoes, turn them in the oil to properly coat them.
    Roast potatoes for 20 minutes. Turn and roast for a further 20 minutes or until golden and crisp.
  10. Season with salt. Serve immediately.

Potato Salad

Once again a great accompaniment to any braai or dinner party, this cool summery dish will have everybody coming back for more

You will need:

  1. A large potato per person catered for or 4 -6 large potatoes to fill a medium to large sized serving bowl
  2. Mayonaise
  3. 4-5 hard boiled eggs, shelled and diced
  4. 5-6 large white pickled onions, finely chopped Fresh chopped parsley or chives for garnishing

Method:

  1. Peel potatoes and cut them into large chunks, either halved or quartered depending on the size of the potato
  2. Place into a large pot and cover with rapidly boiling water.
  3. Bring to the potatoes to the boil on the stove stop
  4. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes until the potatoes are completely cooked
  5. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow to cool
  6. Place the cooled potatoes into a mixing bowl
  7. Add the diced boiled eggs and chopped pickled onions and gently mix
  8. Add 3-4 Tbs of mayonnaise and mix in well until all the potatoes are generously coated, you can always add more mayonnaise if the potatoes look a bit dry.
  9. Place the contents into a glass serving bowl, garnish and store in the fridge until ready for use.

Image: sanitarium.com.au

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