By Barbara Beltrami
Everybody loves potatoes. Everybody cooks potatoes, and everybody eats potatoes (unless they’re on a crash diet). Mashed, baked, home fries, French fries, roasted, chips, salad, boiled and steamed and more. They lend themselves to so many preparations and cooking methods that it’s no wonder they’re the staple of many diets and figure largely in cuisines all over the world.
But good as potatoes are, even they get boring. So here are a few recipes that take potatoes to a new level where they are so delicious that they’re sure to nudge over even the crispiest of French fries and the creamiest of mashed potatoes. One is for a rösti, a Swiss version of a large potato pancake. Another is for Hasselbacks, russets cut accordion-style, drenched with butter and olive oil and cooked to golden perfection. And the third is for Duchess potatoes, mashed and then baked to fluffy scrumptiousness.
YIELD: Makes 3 to 4 servings
1 pound potatoes, peeled
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
In a large bowl or food processor coarsely grate potatoes; thoroughly mix in salt and pepper; let mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Transfer to a second bowl (and don’t worry about any discoloring).
Over medium-high heat, pour oil into heavy 8-inch skillet; test oil by dropping in a potato shred, and if it sizzles, it’s ready. Being careful of a few inevitable spatters, gently drop mixture by handfuls into hot oil, starting with center of pan and moving outward to edges; using the back of a spoon or spatula, flatten into an even pancake. Lower heat but keep it high enough to maintain a good sizzle (don’t let bottom brown too quickly), about 15 minutes.
Carefully slide rösti onto a dinner plate; keep skillet over heat. Put another dinner plate over rösti and holding the two plates tightly together, invert them so brown bottom of pancake is now on top. Remove top plate and slide rösti back into skillet, brown side up. Continue cooking until potatoes are tender and new bottom is browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Slide onto platter, cut into wedges and serve hot with meat, poultry or fish and a green vegetable.
YIELD: Makes 4 servings
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Ground nutmeg to taste
2 eggs lightly beaten with 2 egg yolks
In a large pot of boiling salted water cook potatoes, covered, until soft but not mushy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain potatoes and dry them by shaking them in pan over heat. Put potatoes through a sieve or ricer, add butter, salt and pepper, nutmeg, eggs and egg yolks; beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until very smooth and fluffy. Preheat broiler; place potato mixture in a pastry bag and pipe into desired shapes or portions in a shallow baking pan or cookie sheet; place under broiler to brown on top. Serve immediately with a fine cut of beef or delicate fish.
YIELD: Makes 6 servings
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup snipped chives
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup minced flat leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 russet potatoes
Preheat oven to 425 F. In a small bowl whisk together the butter, olive oil, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper. Lay potatoes on a cutting board and place the handles of two wooden cooking spoons alongside them lengthwise (this will prevent your cutting all the way through to their bottoms). Cut potatoes into quarter-inch slices leaving 1/4 inch at bottom so they are still attached. Place potatoes in a shallow baking pan and, being sure to get into crevices, brush evenly with butter mixture. Bake until crisp and tender, about one hour. Serve immediately with grilled meat, poultry or fish.