How do you boil potatoes?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by koukouvagia, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    It seems simple enough however I question if one way is better than others.  My mother insists they must be boiled with their skin on to retain flavor.  I have done it that way but have also peeled and cut into cubes before boiling for potato salad.

    I happened to watch Tyler's Ultimate yesterday and he traveled to Ireland to learn how to make a charming dish colcannon.  The lady who cooked it insisted the potatoes be steamed to retain nutrients and flavor.  So I decided to make a warm potato salad for dinner just to try out this theory.  I steamed them in a double boiler and they were indeed tasty and I patted myself on the back for "retaining some nutrients."  Any truth to this?
     
  2. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I've always been taught that it was true. Not only with potatoes but with other veggies as well.

    Whether it actually is I have no idea.

    Here's the question for which I have no answer: If nutrients lie in and just under the skin, aren't you removing them anytime you peel the potato? Logically it shouldn't matter whether you peel them before or after cooking.

    What impressed me in that episode was that she steamed the whole potatoes. Strikes me as being a kinder, gentler way of cooking them.
     
  3. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I found it to be kinder and gentler too.  They turned out very nice.
     
  4. someday

    someday

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    If you boil potatoes you are doing it wrong anyways lol. Truly boiling a potato is a bad idea...

    Keeping potatoes in their jackets will help keep them protected from outside moisture, i.e. they won't absorb as much water and become water logged. This will, in turn, keep the potatoes from having a, for lack of a better term, watered down taste and facilitate absorbing of cream/milk/butter/whatever. They will likely turn out fluffier, creamier, and be overall much more delicious. 

    So, your mother is right. 
     
  5. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    If I want to make mashed potatoes and keep their skins on for cooking, instead of peeling them afterwards can I put them straight through a ricer?  Will the ricer remove the skins?  Just wondering because I'm thinking of purchasing a ricer.
     
  6. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    It's a slow process, KK, because the skins clog the extruder die. Which means after each batch you have to clear the hopper.

    But the short answer is, yes, you can leave the skins on.

    You might consider a food mill instead of a ricer. They do, essentially, the same job; except that the mill is faster, and can handle a larger quantity at a time.

    For limited use, I'd get a Foley mill, which is certainly affordible, as compared to some of the others.
     
  7. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Just bought a food mill!  Can't wait to try it.  Up until now I've always preferred mashed potatoes from a box simply because I don't like lumpy mash and mine always come out lumpy and gummy.  Tasty, but not the right texture.  So I'll try it with a food mill and then if they're still not right I'll break down and get myself a chinoix.
     
  8. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    What kind of mill did you buy, KK?

    As you develop a feel for it you'll discover more and more uses for a food mill. Potatoes are just the start.
     
  9. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Well there were 2 brands, one was OXO at $40 and one was a no-name brand at half the cost.  I went for the cheaper one.  It had all the same features so I figured it was good to start with, plus I've tried out a few OXO products I wasn't too fond of so that steered my decision as well.
     
  10. french fries

    french fries

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    One thing I have to say about food mills: arm yourself with a lot of patience. Having said that, that's usually my tool of choice for mashed potatoes. Enjoy! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    I usually prefer to steam potatoes rather than boil, but an exception is large russet potatoes, where each potato is way over 1lb. Those take forever to steam and sometimes you still find small uncooked bits, which is the best route to lumpy mashed potatoes with bits of raw potato inside - the worst. So those I'll boil, or cook in the oven if I have time. 

    Mashed potatoes is one of those things that are simple but take time, care and experience to do right. But do them right and they're excellent. 

    A classic interview of a famous French Chef in L.A.: 

    - Interviewer: So will you be sharing with us the recipe for your famous mashed potatoes? 

    - French Chef: Oh of course, no secret there, it's easy: for each pound of potatoes, add one pound of cream and one pound of butter. 

    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2011
  11. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Why patience, FF? Compared to a ricer, a food mill is spelled speedy.

    I've only recently started steaming spuds. With the russets I cut them in pieces about the same size as new potatoes. They cook fine that way, albiet without 100% of any benefits leaving them completely unpeeled.
     
  12. french fries

    french fries

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    I've never used a ricer KYH, so I wouldn't be able to compare both. In my house the alternative was always between food mill and fork. Fork was the fast easy way, Food mill was the slow patient way (including a bit more patience for washing it vs a fork). To this day I still use both, depending on the time I have and the result I want. So yeah, slow, not compared to a ricer, but compared to a fork. 

    Also, depending on the size of the holes in the disc at the bottom of the mill, the process is more or less slaw. If Kouk is used to dehydrated boxed mashed potatoes, she'll probably want the finer perforations, which are slower. 
     
  13. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Basic Rules:
    • Speed of a mill relative to a ricer, depends on the mill and ricer.   Smaller = slower.
    • Roughly 1/2 cup milk and or and 4 tbs butter (1/4 cup, 1/2 stick) to each pound of potatoes.  That's rich enough to qualify as French.  The right amounts of milk and butter makes the potatoes seem lighter than those which are too thin or too soupy.  Go figure.
    • If the spuds are cooked in water (steamed or boiled), cook the water off the potatoes, before ricing, milling or mashing.  I prefer boiling because it's faster, makes the potatoes easier to mash, gets the salt balance right, and -- as implied -- it's easy enough to boil off the extra water.  But your call.
    • HOT milk + cream; if you're mashing, you can heat the dairy in the same pan as the potatoes after the potatoes are drained and the water cooked off. If you've milled or riced, you need a separate pan to heat the dairy.
    • COLD butter.  Work cold butter into the hot milk and potato mixture, just until the butter is incorporated.  If you're mashing, you can work the butter in with your masher while you mash, mash, smash.
    • Do not, as in DO NOT, overwork the potatoes. 
    • Adjust for salt
    BDL
     
  14. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    depending on the size of the holes in the disc at the bottom of the mill,

    Just out of curiosity, FF, what mill do you use?

    Speed of a mill relative to a ricer, depends on the mill and ricer.   Smaller = slower.

    I've never seen a mill smaller than the Foley, and it's total capacity (I'm estimating) is three to four times that of my ricer.

    Foley mills have holes smaller than my ricer, and actually provide a finer mash. The Oxy that Koukouvagia looked at comes with three different screens, and I imagine at least one of them is at least as fine as the Foley. Although I haven't tried it with potatoes, three of the four screens available for my Victorio are finer than my ricer.

    The larger the ricer the more awkward it is to use, so there's a trade-off there, in terms of speed. Most women I know can not get their hands around the handles of the larger ricers I've seen. Friend Wife has trouble with the one I have, in fact.

    When making mashed potatoes, it takes as many as six fillings with my ricer, and I have to clear the screen each time--not to mention putting up with the spillage when the plunger lifts pulp out of the recepticle. With the Foley I do the same job with two fillings, only clear it when I'm done, and there is no spillage. The hopper on the Victorio is large enough that it would hold the spuds all at once.

    I'm going to have to try the Victorio with potatoes one of these days.

    So, while there are advantages to a ricer, speed, as compared to a mill, isn't one of them.

    I prefer boiling because it's faster, makes the potatoes easier to mash

    I'm not convinced that's true. Although I've just started steaming them, my gut impression is that the total cooking time is less. And they mash just the same.

    My actual preference is to start with baked potatoes. But, of course, that's much more time consuming.
     
  15. phreon

    phreon

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    Could one "steam" them in a pressure cooker? Assuming it doesn't obliterate them, would seem like the best of all worlds. Fast and nutrients are kept in.

    Doug
     
  16. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Posted by KYHeirloomer  
    What's good for the Texas School Board is good for the USA, and the laws of the physical universe simply can't compete.  The relative efficiencies of immersion conduction and convection conduction are meaningless.  Always trust your gut impression. 

    They do mash just the same as long as they're cut in similar sized pieces and cooked to the same relative degree of doneness -- things I should have mentioned.  They mill and rice just the same.  Dress them up in pinafores and bows, and they're equally as cute.

    BDL
     
  17. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Could one "steam" them in a pressure cooker?

    I don't see why not. You'd have to experiment to get the cooking time down, but other than that it should work just fine.
     
  18. redzuk

    redzuk

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    Peel, chop, boil, drain into ricer.  Salt in boiling water, season again with salt and pepper as they sit in the ricer, toss butter onto the pre-riced potatoes, crank the handle, stir cream into mashed potato, check seasoning.   Thats how I do it. 
     
  19. chefamerica

    chefamerica

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    i start with cold water skin on, bring to boil and cook untill tender. the only moisture u want to add is by cream and butter, thats why i go skin on. and bringing to a boil from cold helps to evenly cook the potato outside in!
     
  20. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I've had a complete change of heart, I'm never cutting up or peeling my potatoes before boiling again.  And I'm not going to boil anymore, steaming is the way to go.