More lessons from Mr. Potato

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Welcome to my little corner of culinary delights.  We covered how potato soufflé can teach us how the structure of a food can be changed under the right cooking conditions to produce rather interesting results and taste delights.  Mashed potatoes and potato soup are classic favorites.  But let’s do it in a professional way from what we have learned so far.

Be mindful of the vitamins and earthy flavors within the skin.  Be mindful of the starch content.  Also be mindful as to how boiling water affects tenderness and doneness.  For potato soup, I prefer the skins on.  Since many do not, it is best to peel them or remove their skins.  To remove the skins easily, blanch just enough to cook only a thin layer of potato under the skin.  Then simply cool and pull the skins off with your hands.  Now put the skins back into the boiling water and turn it down and let it simmer.

Dice the potato into bit size cubes (medium dice).  In this way, you will have control over the texture.  If they are various sizes, then you will end up with small pieces becoming mushy, lacking structure, while larger ones are undercooked and too hard.  In other words, uniformity is lost in cooking.  Save the scrap pieces for later.  Put the diced potatoes into a Dutch oven, I prefer a stock pot.  Add only enough water to come up one forth to one third upon to the potatoes.  Put the heat up to about medium high.  Once you see steam rising, cover and reduce heat to low (simmer).  It should continue producing small amounts of steam.  Stir occasionally to achieve uniform heat for cooking.

In the meantime, put the smallish potato scraps into a small sauce pan.  Pour on top only a small amount of the potato water that was simmering with the skins.  Cook until the potatoes are soft.  Remove from heat and smash with a little bit of butter.  You should now have smooth mashed potatoes.

During this interim time, you might want to mince some celery and possibly carrots and onions.  Hint, carrots mince better if cooked a little first.

I hope you have periodically checked the structure of your diced potatoes.  Let them reach the firm stage and then remove from heat.  Pour in small amount of melted butter.  Add the mashed potatoes and lightly mix while still hot enough.  Since there is a small amount of cooking water at the bottom, lightly fold in a cup of cold heavy cream.  Top off with cold milk.  The cold milk will help arrest the residual cooking process.  Stir in the minced vegetables.  Heat up to serving temperature (160°F).  Add in your seasonings to taste.  I like adding some basil and oregano as well.  Serve with crackers or toasted French bread.

Note that the mashed potatoes thicken the soup and the potato water adds flavor and vitamins.

Until next time, peace to all.