Par boiling potatoes for home fries

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by natethegreatt1, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. natethegreatt1

    natethegreatt1

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    I'm going to saute Yukon Golds a little bit smaller than dice. I want to par boil them before sauteing.

    Should I cut them in half, par boil, then cut into cubes. OR

    Dice first, par boil, then saute?

    Thanks all
     
  2. french fries

    french fries

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    If it were me I wouldn't parboil at all. Parboiling gives your sauteed potatoes a taste of potatoes that were first boiled then sauteed. Whereas if you sautee them right away you don't have that boiled potato taste, which I'm not looking for when I sautee potatoes.

    Now parboiling may make sense for a larger cut, but you really don't need it IMO for a cut that small. 

    If you must parboil, then dice first, parboil, then saute. 
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
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  3. natethegreatt1

    natethegreatt1

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    Thank you.
     
  4. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Cook's Illustrated does the par boiling thing. Cut them to the shape you'll cook them. Start them in cold water, bring to boil. when it's at the full boil, drain and saute. This might be less than the par boiling you're thinking of doing, but what it does is convert the starch at the surface so it takes on a better color and crustiness in the frying. If you're looking at the par-boil as a time saver by pre-cooking them more, then I agree more with French Fries that the result is not as good. 
     
  5. french fries

    french fries

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    Personally, I disagree with Cook's Illustrated on SO many things. This is one of them. Have you tried if Phatch? I have, and IMO the results you get from sauteeing raw potatoes is much better. I should mention that we're all huge fans of sauteed potatoes in my family and we must have tried just about every technique out there to compare them. 

    What I do is dice my potatoes and soak them in cold water. This removes the starch from the surface and promotes browning and less sticking in the pan. Then I THOROUGHLY dry the potatoes. An important step that takes a bit of time and maybe 2 or 3 clean, dry towels. 

    Then I heat a large sautee pan (6 Qt) and once hot I add a very liberal amount of oil and a very liberal amount of duck fat. No measuring, just quite a bit. Like 1/4" thick at the bottom of my pan or so. 

    Then I put the perfectly dry potatoes in the very hot fat and cook on very hot for the entire cooking time. No seasoning, no turning down the heat, no turning, no sauteeing for a while. After a while (a couple minutes?) I start shaking the pan to move the potatoes around, make sure they're coated in fat on all sides, move freely and don't stick, only by shaking the pan. No utensils. Once I have my potatoes coated in fat and moving freely, I start sauteeing them on a regular basis to get an even browning on all sides. 

    They should be done rather quickly, something like 15mn or so. Once done, there are a couple of options: 

    1) Drain the fat, season the potatoes, toss some more then serve. 

    2) Remove the potatoes from the fat with a pierced spoon (not sure of the term) and put on paper towels, season and toss, then serve. 

    I do it in batches to avoid crowding the pan. If the pan is too crowded, the potatoes start to steam, stick to each other and to the bottom of the pan and they absorb all the fat. 

    In the end, nothing is better than experimenting with various techniques yourself and make your own decisions. Experiment!
     
  6. dillbert

    dillbert Banned

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    having done it both ways, and having tried most everything and anything suggested or imagined....

    I do not even _think_ about a skin crisping / browning of raw potatoes anymore.

    I slice or dice or cube - whatever - then parboil - then saute to finish.

    note:  a cook with attention can parboil potatoes without turning the potatoes into mush.
     
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  7. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, I've tried it. I even mentioned it in the Potato Challenge for the Frico with the potato and onion filling. It's not much of a par cook as I mention. It's mostly about changing the starch surface without really cooking the potato.
     
  8. french fries

    french fries

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    @phatch  And you really think it improves the taste? How so? The surface browning only? Did it also change the taste or texture of the inside?  (edit: I just read you said better color and crustiness in the frying)

    @Dillbert  I have the same questions for you I guess. You say you don't even think about it anymore - because to you the improvement when parboiling is obvious? What differences did you see/taste? 

    I remember trying it in the past and deciding against it. But you guys sound really convinced - maybe I should give it another try. 

    Also - maybe we do not look for the same end result, because we don't have the same taste? So maybe what you'd consider an improvement, I wouldn't, and vice versa? Just wondering. But I'm willing to make the experiment next time I sautee some potatoes. You know what, I WILL give it another try next time. And I'll report my results here. 

    @phatch  You said "when it's at the full boil, drain and saute." - so you don't dry the potatoes first? Let them chill while some of the steam escape? Do you put them steaming hot in the hot fat? My gut instinct would be to chill them in the freezer for 10-15mn to dry their surface, and give the steam a chance to escape. 
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  9. dillbert

    dillbert Banned

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    cooking a raw potato "chunk" in a pan - if done successfully - is a touchy balancing act of getting it cooked through before burning the outside.

    too hot, it burns.

    too cold, it's a soggy mess.
     
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  10. french fries

    french fries

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    I agree that it requires a bit of experience, and that occasionally things can go wrong, but when done right, it trumps all other methods IMO.     

    And I normally cut the potatoes in rather large dice (about 1" cubes). 

    So do you favor the parboiling in order to simplify the technique? Or because you truly think the results are superior?
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  11. dillbert

    dillbert Banned

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    because I think the results are better.
     
  12. french fries

    french fries

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    Thanks. That (along with Phatch's reports) is enough to convince me to renew the experiment next time I sautee some potatoes. 
     
  13. ordo

    ordo

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    Besides techniques, local air humidity makes a great influence in the cutting of the potatoes to be fried.

    I mean, this:


    is not the same as this:


    The first one, in a humid environment will get mushy in a minute. The second will not.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2014
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  14. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    It might not be to your taste and that's perfectly acceptable. I think it helps crust formation more than anything else. 
     
  15. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    There's some tips and tricks for either par boiling or not. I do both.

    - Par boiling; use potatoes with a low sugar content, preferably waxy potatoes. You can cut the potatoes in a bigger size or leave them uncut when using small potatoes. Simply cook the potatoes cut or uncut until almost done. Most important for the best result is to cool the par boiled potatoes completely, preferably overnight in the fridge. Then cut in the size you like and fry on high fire (or deepfry) in a little oil.

    - Cooking from raw; cut in small cubes works perfect for me. If the chunks are too large, it will take forever to cook them. It is very important to rinse them in cold water and to dry them. Fry in a non-stick pan using some oil, starting on a medium to medium low fire for at least half an hour. Then turn up the heat to high until nicely browned. Turn often. The whole process takes about 45 minutes for 1 cm cubes. Add a few unpeeled cloves of garlic and a little rosemary for extra taste.

    Cooking from raw will give the best taste, it preserves that typical potato taste. That same taste disappears when par boiled or pre fried potatoes go in the fridge to cool! On the other hand, par boiled will indeed give the best crust on the potatoes.

    These are two examples of potatoes fried from raw without par boiling;

     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2014
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  16. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    A potato discussion, my favorite.

    OP, if you're using Yukon potatoes you're better off sticking with French Frie's advice.  Parboiling them is not impossible but the nature of the yukon is to fall apart so they won't hold their shape and turn out more like mushy hashbrowns.  But like I said, this can be done.  These are my yukons cut into 1inch dice, parboiled, and sauteed in fat (can't remember which) with salt/pepper/oregano.


    I always parboil.  I'm not very good at cooking them on the stove top but I've never tried cutting them very small, they've always been about an inch cube or larger.  Parboiling gives them a fluffy interior texture and a crispy exterior.  It all depends on what you're looking for.  There is nothing worse than biting into an attractive piece of potato only to be met with an uncooked interior.  That drives me bonkers so I don't go that route although I'm willing to try it with a small dice, it sounds like fun!

    I parboil in the microwave.  Cut into dice, place in a shallow micrwavable bowl, add a bit of water and parboil for 10-15min or until desired tenderness.  
     
  17. dillbert

    dillbert Banned

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    potatoes fall into high starch, low starch, and in-between the proverbial "all purpose"

    Yukons fall in the low starch

    high starch potatoes tend to go mushy when overcooked by boiling.  this is imho a plus for making hash browns; it's dicey (ouch!) - parboiled/precooked 'just enough' and you get a wet powdery coating that makes a delish crust.  over parboiled, you get a lot of mush running around in the pan.  of course, taste being what it is, they certainly be folk who _like_ a creamy mushy crusted 'sauce' in their hash browns....  for hash brown "patties" the Russet mush is a superb "glue"

    low starch aka waxy types don't develop (or 'less of')  a soft coating.

    if I'm making a German style potato salad - which is essentially boiled potatoes dressed with vinegar, oil/fat(yum! bacon!) and seasoned, I want "clean chunks" - for the American creamy style, the high starch are my preference.

    as for how parboil affects the taste,,,,  I garden, I grow potatoes.  just-dug ie fresh potatoes are a bit like home garden sourced green peas or a garden fresh (actually!) ripe tomato.  compared to anything I've ever bought in a store (fingerlings and possibly "new" excepted) the garden Russets win, no ifs ands or spades about it.

    I always dedicate a portion of the tater patch for "new potatoes" - these are just baby potatoes.  now....'baby / small' potatoes that have been in storage for 3-4-5 months, sorry, they're missing that just dug freshness and taste.
     
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  18. michaelga

    michaelga

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    One thing that cooks doesn't mention is that this process 'they' came across is derived from the way that fast-food and frozen food is treated industry wide.

    The potato's are brought up to a temp of 170f in slighty acidulated water.  They are held at this temp for about 15 minutes.  This sets the pectin so the potatoes don't fall apart when further processed or cooked.  It also changes the surface of the potatoes (pre-gelatinizing) the starches and washes away some of the excess sugar.

    This leads to a product that forms a crustier / crisper outer surface that doesn't fall apart as readily if overcooked a bit and it also doesn't brown too fast before allowing the insides to cook.

    ===

    Anyway back to the OP:

    Dice your potatoes to the desired end size.

    Fill a pot with salted acidulated water of an appropriate size.  (1tbs vinegar and 1 tbs salt per quart of water)

    Bring to a boil and let boil for 5-10 minutes - you want them fully cooked but not falling apart or crumbly. (size of dice determines the time) (to test simply grab one with tongs and pinch it, as soon as they start to crack or crumble under pressure they are done)

    - alt  (If you can - ie. have a water oven or immersion circulator simply bring them to 170 and cook for 15 minutes) This is a much better way!

    Drain and allow to dry on raised racks, chilling them in the freezer is great. (this allows the surface to develop a skin much like a pellicule as in smoking)

    Heat the pan with a generous amount of oil and then add the potatoes.

    Cook until desired color and texture - they are already cooked so no worries about pulling them too soon.

    ---------

    btw

    Yukon Gold potatoes are not low starch they are about in the middle - thus their popularity.    The technical description is 'slightly waxy' rather than 'middle'.

    Here is a good resource with respect to cooking - www.ciaprochef.com/potatoes/pdf/PotatoTypes.pdf
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2014
  19. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I meant to post this a while ago, I tried making breakfast potatoes using @French Fries  method of dicing very small, soaking in water and then slowly cooking in a pan with oil.  I liked the outcome very very much and will be doing it again albeit for small servings, I can't imagine doing this for a large crowd, it would take too long but I don't mind treating just ourselves.

      
      
     
  20. ordo

    ordo

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    I've being trying this method:



    As i have not a sous vide equipment, i used a ziploc and vapor cook the potatoes.


    The result, posted before, was pretty good

    .