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10/31/2022

~ One Potato, Two Potato -- Russet, Red and/or Gold ~

IMG_6150Potatoes.  Not the most exciting foodie topic, but, in our food world, potatoes, are not created quite equally.  "Honey, pick up a bag of potatoes while you're at the store."  It's an innocent request, but, depending on what type of potato comes home in that bag could mean the difference between a great outcome or a mediocre one.  There are a lot of potato varieties, but, for us everyday cooks, I'm gonna focus on the three most common ones -- Russets, reds and golds).  I've come to appreciate the subtle differences between these three, and now, to make a long story short and easy to understand: Russets (baking potatoes/starchy potatoes), Reds (boiling potatoes/waxy potatoes) and Golds (all-purpose potatoes/middle-of-the road potatoes).  

Russet or baking potatoes.  This ruddy-skinned, pleasantly-bland tasting potato is known for its high-starch content.  It's your best friend for baking. The flesh is quite dry and the skin is thick, so, it bakes up crisp on the outside while the inside gets fluffy -- perfect to soak up those pats of butter.  It's the best potato for French fries too.  The starch cooks up a crispy outside while getting that fluffy-light interior that makes for the perfect bite.  There's more.  The high starch content makes Russets ideal for making mashed potatoes because the drier texture keeps them light and fluffy when mashed -- instead of getting pasty or gluey like other potatoe varieties. 

Red or boiling potatoes. This red-fleshed, slightly-sweet tasting potato is considered waxy, meaning, it holds its shape during the boiling process.  This trait makes them, skins-left--on-or-taken-off, great for potato salad, but, makes them undesirable for mashing because they get lumpy and heavy.  They're terrific in shredded or layered applications where they cook through but still hold shape, like hash browns or potato pancakes.  There's more.  They will also soak up all the creaminess in a baked gratin/scalloped potato dish without getting mushy.  The bit of natural sugar in this potato also makes it brown nicely when sliced and fried.  This is potato of choice for potato salad as it holds its shape when cooked and and mixed with the other ingredients.

Gold or all-purpose potatoes. This yellow-fleshed, slightly-buttery-tasting potato is perhaps my favorite of the three varieties because it is the most forgiving in any application  -- I simply adore golds.  They are moister than the Russet and less waxy than the red, plus, their naturally yellow-gold color is so danged pretty to look at.  They are are just waxy enough to stand up in any sliced-or-cubed potato application, yet fluffy enough to make some of the best mashed potatoes you've ever tasted.  You can use a gold potato in any application you would use a red potato, but not vise versa -- red potatoes are simply too waxy for mashed potatoes as they just get gluey.

One potato, two potato -- Russet, red and/or gold: 

IMG_6150"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Reipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)

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