I had plenty of problems trying to figure out which potatoes to use for baking, salads, oven frys or to make the best mashed potatoes. If you are anything like me you might read it in a recipe and then forget. So I thought it would make sense to put the info down on the blog so I can access it anytime. I’m really excited that I can bookmark the page and search it up from my Blackberry while at the store.
Types of Potatoes
- Floury Potatoes – These are also know as Baking Potatoes. They contain the most starch, 20 to 22 percent and the most amylose. These potatoes are a dry, mealy texture. They are best used for baking and frying and are the best for mashing. They will absorb the butter the best. The potatoes will not stay together when cooked, so they are also good for thickening soup or a stew. If you want cubes of potato they will not do. Main varieties are Russet and Idaho.
- Waxy Potatoes – These are also know as Boiling Potatoes. They contain a lower amount of starch, 16 to 18 percent. They also have much lower amounts of amylose. This gives them a firm and waxy texture. New potatoes fall into this group. They are good for roasting or broiling or when you want the potato to hold its shape. Main varieties are Red Bliss, French Fingerling, Red Creamer and White Rose.
- In Between – They are in between, having more starch than a waxy potato, but less than the mealy types. If you had to say which are they closer to, the answer would be the mealy type. They can be used in place of both types, they just won’t be quite as good at it. Main varieties are Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, Purple Peruvian.
What is this starch stuff and what does it mean – The range of starch in a potato will range from 16 to 22 percent. There are two types of starch, amylose and amylopectin. Amylose molecules separate easily when cooked in the presence of water. This is the reason why Russets are the best choice for mashed potatoes.
Which to use
- Mashed – Use a dry, mealy potatoes and simmer them with their skins on. This will keep water out and make for a more fluffy result.
- Baked – Use a dry, mealy potato and bake at a low temperature to allow some of the starch in the flesh of the skin to break down into sugar. This gives the potato a rich flavor.
- Roasted – Use a waxy potato for this job. Cooks Illustrated author Keith Dresser suggest covering the pan with foil for the first half of the roasting time and then removing. This will allow them to steam in their own moisture and become creamy.
- Boiled – Firm and waxy all the way!
Basic Potato Recipes from Cooks Illustrated
MASHED POTATOES Serves 4
Place 2 pounds scrubbed (and unpeeled) dry, floury potatoes in large saucepan with cold water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to boil, then simmer over medium-low heat until tender and fully cooked, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and peel potatoes. Mill, rice, or mash potatoes. Stir in 8 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, followed by 1 cup warm half-and-half. Season with 11⁄2 teaspoons table salt and ground black pepper to taste.
BAKED POTATOES Serves 4
Place 4 medium dry, floury potatoes directly on middle rack in 350-degree oven. Bake potatoes until skewer glides easily through flesh, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Open immediately and serve with butter and salt.
ROASTED POTATOES Serves 4
Toss 2 pounds firm, waxy potatoes, cut into 3⁄4-inch wedges, with 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place potatoes flesh side down on rimmed baking sheet and cover tightly with foil. Cook potatoes on middle rack in 425-degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to roast until sides of potatoes touching pan are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Carefully turn potatoes over and continue to roast until golden brown on the second side, 5 to 10 minutes.
BOILED POTATOES Serves 4
Place 2 pounds scrubbed firm, waxy potatoes in large saucepan with cold water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to boil, then simmer over medium-low heat until tender, at least 10 minutes for 1-inch potatoes and up to 18 minutes for 21⁄2-inch potatoes. Drain and toss with butter.