Potatoes are inexpensive, easy to grow, and very versatile. They are a great side dish and are also an ingredient in pierogies and gnocchi. And of course, they are great baked, mashed, and French fried. Boiling is another popular cooking method. Boiling is often used in preparation for mashed potatoes, but it is also a great way to prepare potatoes for use in salads and soup. If you learn how to boil potatoes, you will be able to make a variety of great dishes for all occasions.
You can boil all varieties of potatoes, but those with a high water and low starch content work best. Red potatoes boil well because they retain their firm texture, and they taste great in many boiled potato dishes. Their firmness makes it easy to cut them into cubes. Starchy potatoes break apart once they are cooked, making them ideal for mashed potatoes. They also thicken liquid dishes like stew and potato soup.
Cooking the Potatoes
Potatoes can be boiled whole or you can slice or cube them before boiling. Fill a large pot with the potatoes. Add enough water to cover the potatoes. Add two teaspoons of salt to the water and place the pot over a high flame. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to medium and cover. The potatoes should be fork-tender after about 30 minutes of boiling. Cut potatoes cook faster, so check them after 15 minutes. Potatoes are fully cooked when a fork can be inserted into the skin and flesh and removed with ease. Cooked potatoes should be drained and returned to the pot to cool or mashed with butter and milk while still warm.
Peeled potatoes have a tendency to absorb a lot of water during cooking. They also lack the vitamins and fiber found in the skin. Peeling potatoes can make them healthier, though. It removes the pesticides applied to commercially grown potatoes, the dirt that can remain on the skin even after washing, and the eyes that tend to grow on potatoes that were picked awhile ago. Cutting young, tender potatoes might break apart while cooking. If you plan to break or mash the potatoes once cooked, cutting will cut down on cooking time. Cut pieces similar in size so they cook evenly.
Seasoning the Potatoes
Seasoning the water with salt gives potatoes added flavor once cooked. You can also add other seasonings to the water when boiling. Base your seasoning choices on your final dish. Potatoes can be boiled in vegetable, beef, or chicken stock for added flavor. You can add garlic cloves to the water when boiling, which works especially well for flavoring potatoes intended for mashed preparations. If you will be using the cooked potatoes in a salad or other cold dish, make sure the potatoes cool completely before adding other ingredients. The heat from un-cooled potatoes will melt the other ingredients and absorb a lot of the liquid, causing the dish to be over-flavored.
Potatoes are inexpensive and simple to prepare. If you are searching for a food that needs to be filling and made in a large batch, potato-based dishes are a great solution.