No mat­ter the kind, please pass the pota­toes

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - FOOD - Email Anne Braly at abraly@times­freep­ress. com.

Many of us are count­ing carbs these days, but it’s hard to say no to pota­toes. There’s just some­thing about a baked potato with sour cream and but­ter or scal­loped pota­toes made in the true French method with cream, Swiss cheese and a hint of gar­lic that’s dif­fi­cult to re­sist.

When­ever I’m in a gro­cery store with a re­ally good pro­duce depart­ment, I’m im­pressed with the wide va­ri­ety of potato shapes, col­ors and sizes, with tex­tures rang­ing from waxy lit­tle fin­ger­lings to big, sweet yams. Pota­toes are a ver­i­ta­ble rain­bow of starchy de­li­cious­ness that come in a range of col­ors, in­clud­ing blue, pur­ple, or­ange, red and white.

At one point in his­tory, pota­toes in Ire­land were in­fected with blight and more than 1 mil­lion peo­ple died from star­va­tion. To­day, thank­fully, pota­toes are plen­ti­ful and a good value. But how do you know which potato to use for what?

Here’s a potato primer from Blue Apron:

* Mul­ti­col­ored baby pota­toes: Use them for dec­o­ra­tion by fill­ing a big bowl in the kitchen with the tri­col­ored, tiny round pota­toes. There also are very good for mak­ing potato salad, but not that great for mash­ing.

* Pur­ple pota­toes are a type of fin­ger­ling potato na­tive to South Amer­ica. They of­fer more an­tiox­i­dants than their paler rel­a­tives and have an earthy and slightly nutty flavor. Pair them with roasted Brus­sels sprouts for two de­li­cious, earthy side dishes. De­li­cious with grilled meats.

* Yukon Golds are an all- pur­pose potato that you can use in any recipe — roasted, smashed or tossed with a creamy dress­ing, like in potato salad.

* Baby reds are red on the out­side and white as snow when you cut them open. They’re very good when you crisp them up — skin and all — and serve them with a skil­let steak or pork chops.

* Rus­set pota­toes, the hero of the potato fam­ily, can’t be beat when you’re mak­ing fluffy mashed pota­toes or crispy potato wedges to go with a juicy burger.

If you have some ex­tra rus­sets, try Tor­tilla Es­panola, the Span­ish na­tional dish. Com­pletely un­re­lated to the Mex­i­can tor­tilla, the Span­ish ver­sion es­sen­tially re­sem­bles a large potato pan­cake or omelette and keeps well at room tem­per­a­ture for sev­eral hours. Serve it hot from the pan, or it tastes won­der­ful cold, too.

Tor­tilla Es­panola

This Span­ish potato omelette makes an ex­cel­lent snack or light sup­per served with your meat of choice and a green salad.

1 cup olive oil

4 large rus­set pota­toes, thinly sliced to about 1⁄8-inch-thick

1 large onion, thinly sliced to about 1⁄8-inch-thick

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

Salt, to taste Pars­ley, op­tional

Heat the oil in a heavy, non­stick skil­let (sea­soned cast iron is best). Add the potato and onion slices, one by one, al­ter­nat­ing lay­ers of pota­toes and onions. Salt each layer as it is fin­ished. Turn the pota­toes of­ten to pre­vent stick­ing. Cook over medium heat un­til the pota­toes are ten­der.

While the pota­toes are cook­ing, beat the eggs in a large bowl. Get out an­other large bowl, and put a large sieve or colan­der in­side it.

Turn off the heat un­der the pota­toes, and re­move the potato mix­ture with a slot­ted spoon. Turn the mix­ture into the sieve and let any ex­cess oil drain into the large bowl. Af­ter about 2 min­utes, pour the pota­toes into the egg mix­ture, and stir gen­tly with a rub­ber spat­ula to coat all the pota­toes with the eggs. Let stand for 5 min­utes.

Mean­while, pour all of the re­main­ing olive from the skil­let into the large bowl (the one with the sieve). Re­serve the oil.

Wipe out the skil­let with a pa­per towel, mak­ing sure that all food par­ti­cles are re­moved. Heat 3 ta­ble­spoons of the re­served oil in the skil­let over medium-high heat, and pour in the potato/egg mix­ture, pat­ting it into a large flat pan­cake. Cook un­til the pan­cake is semi-set and golden brown on one side. Flip the pan­cake onto a plate, add two more ta­ble­spoons of oil to the skil­let and slide the pan­cake in, un­cooked side down. Cook un­til golden brown on the other side. Re­peat the flip­ping pro­ce­dure 2-3 more times, leav­ing pan­cake no longer than 1 minute on each side over the heat. Slide the pan­cake onto a clean plate and let cool to room tem­per­a­ture. Makes 1 (10-inch) pan­cake. Cut into wedges, and sprin­kle with chopped pars­ley, if de­sired, to serve.

BRAIN­ERD FOOD PANTRY OPENS

To­day is open­ing day for the new Brain­erd Food Pantry at Brain­erd United Methodist Church, 4315 Brain­erd Road. The pantry, op­er­ated by the Chat­tanooga Area Food Bank, dis­trib­utes food to those in need. And, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease, the Brain­erd area is one of the need­i­est in town, hav­ing shown a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the need for food since the pan­demic be­gan.

The pantry will be mod­eled af­ter the Red Bank Com­mu­nity Pantry, manned by vol­un­teers and re­ceiv­ing en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port from res­i­dents around the neigh­bor­hood. Due to the size of the Brain­erd Com­mu­nity — much larger than Red Bank — more vol­un­teers and do­na­tions are needed. To do so, log onto brain­erd­food­pantry.com.

Anne Braly

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