A Condensation of Alton Brown’s Potato Wisdom
—from Good Eats episodes "This Spud’s for You"
and "This Spud’s for You Too"

My own sentiments are included...


Doubtless domesticated by the Inca or their ancestors, the potato is actually from the nightshade family of plants. That’s right, nightshades were the source of poisons used to assassinate kings and popes, hence Europe’s long-time disdain for the potato (thinking it posionous, which it was until the Inca cultivated it). The Irish loved and adopted the potato about 100 years before the rest of Europe.

Other nightshades include the bell pepper, the eggplant and the tomato.

Potato comes from a carribean Indian word: batata.


There are numerous varieties in each of three broad classifications or types:


A 6 ounce potato contains...


This heading is the hardest to fill in. More interesting detail can be found in what’s said about various methods of preparing potatoes, especially in the soup recipe which is couched a little pedantically. The ingredients list will be obvious though no attempt is made to quantify (these are principles not recipes).

Separately, note that at 160°, the starch granules of the potato begin to open up and will accept water. The more starch a potato has, the more water-logged or dissolved it will become when cooking in the presence of water.

Over-working cooked potato will break down the starches and turn what you’re making into glue.


use Russets
  Preheat oven to 350°, prick with fork to ensure steam can escape rather than burst the starch granules, oil well, sprinkle with salt and bake on rack about 1 hour; squeeze to test: it’s done when soft.

In my convection oven, an 8-10 oz. baker will take nearly 1½ hours to reach done. (—Russ)
use 2 parts Russets to 1 part reds
  Peel Russets, but not reds; fill water to 1" above potatoes; salt generously and cover with a lid; turn down to avoid rolling boil; meanwhile, stew 2 cloves of garlic in ¼ of buttermilk and whipping cream per pound of potato; drain potatos in collander, return to pot, mash slightly and add dairy taking care not to add to much or the result will be glue.

See my garlic-mashed potato recipe. (—Russ)
use Russets, Yukons or reds
  Slice into ¼" sticks or ¼" × 1" straps (Red Robin Restaurant-style). Toss in a tiny amount of cornstarch and fry a few minutes (5-7) in medium hot oil (up to 350°). Remove (they should not have begun to brown) and allow to cool while other batches are pre-fried. Then, return the fries, batch by batch, to hot (375°) oil and fry until golden and slightly crisp (4-5 minutes). All times depend on thickness
use Russets, Yukons or reds
  Parboil until soft. Meanwhile, make a batch of puff pastry and mix potato and dough thoroughly. Make little ¾ to 1" balls. Fry by batches in hot (375°) oil until golden brown.

See my pommes de terre dauphines recipe. (—Russ)
use medium starchy like Yukon Gold
  Slice thin using mandolin; butter the baking dish thoroughly; lay in multiple layers of (for example) potato slices, mushrooms (sparingly), parsley, salt, pepper, asiago cheese, etc., half and half; press down between layers to distribute ingredients; cover with foil and bake at 400-450° 45 minutes; remove foil and brown with bread crumbs, additional cheese or as is; let repose at least 15 minutes before serving.
use baked Russets
  Cook aromatics in butter over medium heat to sweat, sweating process uses salt to remove moisture, until translucent; don’t add the potatoes now or they will absorb the butter and burn or become crips; don’t add sour cream because it will cook; don’t add buttermilk because the heat will curdle it; add, instead, the chicken stock and bring to a simmer to make liquid base.

Add the dairy ingredients to the baked potatoes first including the cheese; beat into a paste (emulsion), then add to liquid base, but do not purée; immediately before serving, add a little vinegar and pepper.
use reds
  See recipe at Cold-fashioned Potato Salad