Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Potatoes ... all sorts - Part 1 of 2

Okay, so I fibbed a little bit. I've found some time to do a bit more blogging and I'm posting something ... and it's about cooking! Fancy that!

So, how do you feel about potatoes? I have to say, I'm not a big fan. All that starch and carbs! I don't eat a lot of carbs, so unless it's a special dinner, potatoes don't make much of an appearance on my kitchen or on the dining room table. I always have onions, carrots and celery in the kitchen, along with garlic, parsley, thyme, broccoli and a few other things, but no potatoes. Right now though, there are potatoes in my kitchen, waiting on a dinner party for the boys tomorrow night. Six humongous unwashed (or brushed as they call it) potatoes.

I'm going to be making a mash to top the shepherd's pie I'm cooking. I think I might have too many potatoes and I'm still having trouble gauging quantity. Usually, my rule of thumb is one potato per person, medium sized of course, but since this goes on top of a dish and the dish is slightly larger than the recipe proportions, I'm guessing.

I have three ways that I like to cook my potatoes - mashed, hasselback or crispy, which tends to be a side dish or an accompaniment to the mains I'm cooking. I don't think I've ever cooked potatoes as the main dish, maybe I will at some point but again ... back to the starch and carb thing.

I know I harp on the starch and carb thing, but really, the more starch, the more carb and for me too much carbs = bad! However, ... and here's the good news - there's a way around that. It is possible not to activate the starch when cooking potatoes, so you end up with at least 2/3 less starch, hence less carbs. Hooray!! The trick? Keep as little water / liquid hitting the potato as possible when cooking it, and if you really need the water (like boiling it) then make sure you find a way to get rid of the water and dry out the potato before serving it. Who knew?

I'm going to provide 3 recipes today, which I don't often do, because it makes for a long post, so I'm splitting this into 2 posts.

Here's how to make the best mashed potatoes ever. I call it my RECIPE for restaurant mashed potatoes. You will experience the lightest, fluffiest, smoothest mashed potatoes every, just like in the restaurants.

  • Potatoes (unwashed) – however many to be eaten based on number of people, usually one potato per person is plenty
  • Milk (about 1 cup, maybe a bit more if there are a lot of potatoes)
  • Butter (lots of it)
  • Herbs (to infuse into milk) – can use any herb of choice, rosemary, thyme, etc.
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Rock Salt  (for cooking)

  • Put a thick (1 cm) layer of rock salt at the bottom of a roasting pan (the rock salt can be re-used).
  • Put potatoes on pan, evenly spaced, on top of rock salt
  • Put into oven at 180 degrees C and roast for 1.5 hours
  • When potatoes are about ready, heat milk and put in herbs to infuse herb flavor into milk
  • Let potatoes cool a little (or keep in the oven at around 80 or 90 degrees C until ready to make)
  • Cut potatoes into half and scoop out insides into a mixing bowl
  • Add milk and butter and whisk gently until mashed
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and serve
I know it sounds weird but the bed of rock salt is important. It absorbs the liquid so that the starch in the potatoes does not get activated. Remember, no starch activated = less carbs = good.

This is what the potatoes look like when it's on the bed of rock salt and in the oven.

And after you've scooped all the potato out, this is what's left of the skins that you will toss away.

The Boy likes truffle mash, so instead of the herbs, I use truffle oil. I do everything the same as the above, except I do not add herbs into the milk when heating. What I do is while whisking the potatoes, I drizzle some truffle oil into the mix and whisk in. You don't need a lot, particularly if you get a good brand of truffle oil and you have strong flavor. It should be a subtle flavor and smell. If it's strong, you've used too much truffle oil.

I'll write about the hasselbacks and the crispies in my next post.

If you do make the mashed potatoes, do tell me about it. How did it go? Did you love it? Did it work for you? What did you add to it? 

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