dcsimg

A Potato Primer: Beyond the Russet Burbank

In the Pantry

The average American consumes 124 pounds of potatoes each year. Sounds like a lot--until you consider the myriad of culinary possibilities a chef has with this humble little tuber. Whether it's baked, fried, mashed, roasted, in a salad or soup, potatoes epitomize versatility. However, their ubiquitous nature often leads chefs to forget how to breathe new life into their potato creations. Read on to learn how to take your spuds from lackluster to spectacular.

Culinary Arts

Potato Chemistry 101

Why is it that some potatoes disintegrate while boiling and others hold their shape perfectly, even when overcooked? The answer lies in a potato's starch to sugar ratio. The driest, or starchiest, potatoes (like Russet Burbank) hold up well to french fry and chip processing. If you're making a potato salad or pan-frying, however, you want a potato that is relatively moist (most red varieties are useful here). Cooking up the perfect mashed potato? Waxy spuds, with a moderate starch to sugar ratio, are the way to go (think Yukon Gold).

Fundamentals of Potato Art

Gone are the days when a plateful of potatoes demanded a snappy garnish. With the wide array of colorful varieties on the market today and carefully chosen recipes, potatoes can easily liven up any plate. Choose from deep blue and lavender to red, yellow, and (of course) white potatoes to complement your meal. Looking for a break from round and oval potatoes? Try cooking with flavorful fingerlings, a lesser-known branch of the potato family whose oblong, finger-like shape lends itself well to roasting, baking, or grilling. No matter which color or variety you choose, be sure to store your potatoes in a cool, dark place with plenty of ventilation.

Introduction to Potato Geography

If you're ready for some fresh ways of cooking up potatoes, look to international cuisine for some inspiration. Although potatoes were first cultivated over 7,000 years ago by Pre-Columbian cultures in South America, they are now a culinary staple worldwide. Consider some of the following global ideas when you want a new way to prepare potatoes:

  • Gnocchi, an Italian classic, are dumplings often made from leftover mashed potatoes. Try a simple pesto cream or brown butter sage sauce to complement this hearty comfort food.
  • Aloo Gobi, an Indian curry made with potatoes and cauliflower, makes a delicious main dish or a welcome addition to an international feast.
  • Latkes, or potato pancakes, originated in Eastern Europe and are a staple of Hanukkah celebrations. To vary the traditional latke recipe, try adding sweet potato, carrot, or zucchini.
  • Tortillas de Patata, Spanish omelets, combine potatoes, egg, and onion, and can also feature ham, fresh herbs, and a variety of vegetables.
  • Moussaka, the Greek classic, can be made with potatoes instead of eggplant and is a great choice for a dinner party or potluck.

No matter how you slice them, potatoes are an endlessly versatile ingredient. Put your culinary skills to the test as you experiment with new potato varieties and unique recipes for this culinary staple.

Sources:

Oregon State University, Variety Selection

Wisconsin Potatoes, Fun Facts

About the Author:

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            3 Program(s) Found
            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 campuses located in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            3 Program(s) Found
            • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
            • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
            • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Instructors are typically real-world professionals with many years of experience in their career fields.
            • Ranked #3 in Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges 2014 by Military Times.
            • Presents the full tuition cost up front. In most cases, even textbooks are included in the total price.
            • Provides career services associates to help students review their resume, provide career counseling, help with job searches, and more.
            • Has 27 campus locations across the southern United States, plus offers online degree programs.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            1 Program(s) Found
            • A contemporary, career-focused institution of higher education dedicated to excellence since 1902.
            • Has academic advising that provides students someone to answer questions and provide guidance.
            • Offers scholarships for qualifying military members, adult learners, as well as program-specific scholarships.
            • Provides tutoring services to help students master any assignments that give them trouble.
            • Gives students the option to study online, at one of the 12 campuses in Indiana or Ohio, or a combination of both.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            3 Program(s) Found
            L'Ecole Culinaire , Kansas City
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
            • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
            • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits