Posts Tagged ‘potato’

Non Succedat Omnia: Preparing Potatoes for the Plate (Part 2)

Over the past week, I’ve planted, sliced, mandolined, tossed, cooked, and finally baked more potato variants than I ever thought possible! And, throughout this week’s celebration of the lowly, yet ever-so-versatile spud, not all of my efforts have ended well. As the title of this post so cryptically suggests, “not everything succeeds;” a maxim that is frequently (and disappointingly) true in the time-intensive labors of gardening and cooking. In the garden, I was revolted to find that a whole batch of seed potatoes had melted into a fuzzy white paste, and in the kitchen, I tried to make baked sweet potato chips.

My first foray into baking potato slices began with what is, I still firmly believe, a fantastic recipe for chipotle baked sweet potato chips (which you can find {here}). Honestly, the chipotle and

brown sugar glaze that so delicately clung to each perfectly formed slice of golden veg smelled

(and tasted) like a gift from Ah Mun himself. However, due in part to our finicky, ancestral

Perfect slices of sweet potato, so full of hope.

Perfect slices of sweet potato, so full of hope.

oven which tends to burn hotter on the right than the left (or hotter on the left, if the weather’s just right); our slightly rickety baking trays that transmit heat faster than a Phoenix sidewalk; and my continual inability to remember the issues our oven and baking trays tend to have, every batch of sweet potato chips emerged from the oven coated in an undoubtedly carcinogenic blackness that could turn even the brightest of tuberous dreams to ash.

However, despite my continual failure in the area of sweet potatoes, I thought I’d forego the fancily enticing spices and return to the plain old potato for one final attempt at baking an edible chip. Thankfully, this is one story that did not end in failure.

Baked Potato Chips: Ingredients

Russet Potatoes

Olive oil or cooking spray

Sea Salt

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 475º F (245º C)

2. Using a sharp knife or a mandolin slicer, thinly slice your potatoes as evenly as possible (slices of varying thicknesses will require increased vigilance on your part as they cook)

Papery Potatoes

Papery Potatoes

3. Pat the slices with a paper towel to dry off the potatoes as much as possible

4. Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil or cooking spray, and arrange your dry potato slices in a single layer on the tray

5. Coat the slices with a thin layer of olive oil or cooking spray, and cook in your preheated oven until brown and crispy (typically between 6 – 10 minutes). I found that flipping the slices every three minutes prevented them from burning, and allowed me to check their level of crisp.

6. When your chips have finished baking, place on a paper towel and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.

Crispy, flavorful, potato chips that are baked, not fried!

Crispy, flavorful, potato chips that are baked, not fried!

My only word of warning with these potato chips is that once they’re ready to eat, you’ll find them quickly disappearing (the batch I made only two hours ago is already long gone)!

Needless to say, I’m quite thankful to be able to present a modicum of success after my initial potato-based disappointment. Hopefully now you will learn from my mistakes, take the plunge, and bake your own (addictive) potato chips as well!

That’s all I have on potatoes for now, but I hope you’ll stop in next week for a simple tutorial on herbal tincturing!

Until next time, happy gardening, cooking, and doing anything else that brings you joy!

Nate

Solum, Nocte, et Farinæ: Preparing Potatoes for the Plate (Part 1)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my brief lifetime in Central Pennsylvania, it’s that one must be willing to be versatile in order to fully enjoy this part of the world. When a single week in May can contain below-freezing temperatures on Tuesday,  top out at 82 degrees on Thursday, and all the while be intermingled with menacing storms and revitalizing Spring breezes, it’s clear that versatility is the key to contentment around these parts. So, with versatility in mind, I thought I’d make (and present) one of my favorite, flexible recipes that uses the potato, which might just be the most adaptably simple, yet continually rewarding ingredient I’ve yet found.

This Swedish style of potato prep is known as “Hasselback,” which simply describes the accordion-

Sliced potatoes ready for accenting!

Sliced potatoes ready for accenting!

esque manner of slicing your tubers before baking. As an inherent lover of all things different, I greatly appreciate the innovation this style of cooking brings to the time-worn baked potato, a culinary staple which has, I must admit, been boring me for years. The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a simple variation of seasaltwithfood’s original design, and is meant to be easy to alter to fit your favorite potato toppings!

Garlic Hasselback Potatoes: Ingredients

6 medium potatoes

4 – 5 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons butter (you may choose to use more or less, depending on your preference)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 425˚ F (220˚ C)

2. Place your potatoes on a cutting board so that they do not roll, and cut deep slits (almost to the base) into each potato, about an inch (3 mm) apart. I find that using a serrated blade gives you the most control for this step, which can help you avoid slicing straight through the potato.

I prefer a hefty amount of garlic with my potatoes, but you may certainly choose to use less (or more!).

3. Place your sliced potatoes on an ungreased baking tray, and insert the garlic into the slits.

4. Top each potato with an equal amount of butter and olive oil, and sprinkle each tuber with salt and pepper.

5. Pop the potatoes into your preheated oven, and bake for at least 40 minutes, or until the outer flesh of the potato is lightly brown and crispy, while the inside of the potato is soft and tender. Depending on your oven and potatoes, this step could take longer than 40 minutes (I usually need to leave my spuds in the cooker for at least an hour before they’re ready).

When your potatoes are out of the oven and on the table, your options for further garnishing

A cooked hasselback, just begging for some sour cream and fresh-from-the-garden spring onions!

A cooked hasselback, just begging for some sour cream and fresh-from-the-garden spring onions!

are only limited by your imagination! But, if you’re like me and would prefer some inspiration, here’s a link to a wide array of creative (and undoubtedly delicious) hasselback variations for you to try: Foodgawker’s Hasselback Offerings.

For part two of our foray into potato recipes, I’ll be giving baked potato chips a go (with hopefully successful results)! So stay tuned for (I promise!), the last potato post of this week!

Until next time, happy gardening, cooking, and doing whatever else brings you joy!
Nate

Solanum tuberosum Solum: Preparing Potatoes for the Sun

These pink dogwood bracts are a sure sign of Spring around here!

These pink dogwood bracts are a sure sign of Spring around here!

As I emerge from the haze that’s enshrouded my past four years as an undergraduate student, I’m coming to the startling realization that Spring has finally unfolded across central PA!

Mucking through the forest to find signs of life.

Mucking through the forest to find signs of life.

And, while I am eagerly awaiting May 15 (our last-frost date here), I’m having to rush to complete my early-Spring gardening checklist in time, which would, of course, be far easier if I actually had an early-Spring gardening checklist prepared! As it stands, however, in the madness of graduation, certification, job hunting, and substitute teaching, fragments of my gardening knowledge are slowly resurfacing to remind me of what needs done before the illustriously imminent last-frost date arrives!

The Task at Hand: Finding the Right Time

First on that ever-expanding list of things to do? Finally plant my favorite member of the Solanum, or nightshade, family: potatoes! The best time to plant potatoes is, ideally, two – three weeks prior to your area’s last frost date, as the potato shoot takes about this long to emerge from the ground; however, in our garden, only one set of potatoes actually got planted at that time, so the other two varieties we’re currently growing have only just been put into the soil. As the potato is a cold-friendly plant, try not to wait too terribly long past your last-frost date to  put these spuds in the ground! You can find your last-frost date (in the United States) here! 

How to Prepare and Plant Your Potatoes

Each year when I go to plant my freshly-purchased bag of seed potatoes, I find that I’ve long since forgotten how to go about planting these admittedly odd-looking tubers.

A truly unique bit of flora.

Forgetting to plant your potatoes will turn those slight sprouts into truly unique bits of flora.

So, I thought I’d compile a step-by-step guide to prepping and planting potatoes (for my benefit and hopefully yours)!

Obtaining and Preparing:

1. Find a source of seed potatoes in your area (avoid planting grocery store tubers, as these tend to be treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting), and choose the varieties that speak to you. This year, I’ve gone with Reds, Russets, and Kennebecs, just for these varieties’ “cookability.”

2. Place your seed potatoes in a cool, dark place for two – three weeks to allow them to sprout (if they haven’t already).

3. When the sprouts are about a 1/2 inch to an inch (1.5 – 2.5 cm) long, they’re ready to plant.

4. Using a non-serrated knife, cut your seed potatoes into chunks with at least two eyes/sprouts each. You may choose to let these chunks sit for a day or two to allow a “skin” to form over the cut edges. I’ve heard conflicting reports of whether this step is necessary, but, so far, I’ve yet to hear that this is detrimental to your future crop, so I’ll let you decide whether or not to “skin” your potatoes!

Finally Planting Your Potatoes

1. When your Solanum tuberosum chunks are ready to plant, find a sunny spot in your garden to

Not exactly a standard trench, but it will do!

Not exactly a standard trench, but it will do!

dig your potato trench. The trench should be long enough to allow for about 12″ (30 cm) of space between each potato, and between 3″ and 6″ deep (9 – 15 cm).

2. Line the bottom of your trench with rich organic compost or rotted manure, and fully incorporate your chosen fertilizer with the soil (this will give your tubers the boost they need to emerge healthy and ready for the sun!).

3. Place your potato chunks into the trench with their sprouts pointing up, 12″ (30 cm) apart.

4. Cover completely with soil and keep moist. You’ve just successfully planted a potato crop!

While putting in your potatoes is just one aspect of the early Spring countdown, it’s certainly one of my favorites! Of course, once your potatoes start sprouting, they will need to undergo some slight maintenance to ensure a solid harvest, so stay tuned to my coverage of potato upkeep in Solanum tuberosum Nocte: Preparing Potatoes for the Night!

As always, happy planting!

Nate

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