Melt in your mouth potatoes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2014

Culinary historians venture that potatoes held no cachet on southern tables until Jefferson and Franklin served them after their well-known Paris sojourns. Potatoes fared better as immigrants from potato-loving cultures arrived in waves over the next century or so, bringing their favorite spud varieties, recipes, and foodways with them.

Today, home gardeners and small farms are the guardians of potato diversity, as are cooks who appreciate that different recipes require different kinds of potatoes, ranging from low-starch to high-starch varieties. Low-starch waxy potatoes hold their shape when cooked, making them good candidates for potato salad, for example. High-starch varieties have dry flesh that collapse when cooked, so they’re best for fluffy mashed potatoes. Round, brown potatoes are most common, but these tubers, particularly heirloom varieties, come in a range of shapes and colors, including white, gold, red, pink, purple, and blue.

Many people find comfort in the reliable familiarity of potatoes. This short verse by John Tyler sums up the sentiment.

Pray for peace and grace and spiritual food.

For wisdom and guidance, for all these are good.

But don’t forget the potatoes.

Our new potatoes have come in so I have had potatoes on my mind. Nothing is as delicious as new little potatoes, cooked quickly with a little butter added at the end. We do take potatoes for granted and many are on their case for being full of starch, but what would the South be without some good old potato salad, mashed potatoes, potato cakes, and fries? I say eat those potatoes, maybe not at every meal!

Taken from June 2014 ‘Southern Living’

Parslied New Potatoes
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups milk
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. sugar
Salt and black pepper
2 lb. new potatoes, quartered, boiled until tender and drained
¼ cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Melt butter with oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Whisk in milk and next 3 ingredients and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over potatoes; toss to coat. Serves 8.

Taken from The New Southern Garden Cookbook by Sheri Castle.

Summer Vegetable Potato Salad
Makes 8 servings.
1 ½ lbs. small waxy potatoes, left whole or cut into large bite-sized chunks
3 tablespoons dry white wine
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
8 ounces slender green beans or yellow wax beans, ends trimmed
1 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup whole miniature tomatoes as many colors as possible
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, add ½ teaspoon kosher salt per cup of water; reduce the heat, and cook at a low boil only until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 15 minutes. Do not overcook them or they will start to fall apart and get waterlogged. Drain them in a colander and return them to the hot pot to let any remaining moisture evaporate away. Spread the hot potatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with wine and vinegar, and let cool to room temperature. The potatoes will absorb most of the liquid as they cool. Transfer the cooled potatoes and any standing liquid into a large bowl.

Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add ½ teaspoon kosher salt per cup of water. Add the beans and cook until barely tender, 5 to 8 minutes, depending on their size. Transfer with a slotted spoon into the ice water to stop the cooking and set the color. Drain well, pat dry, and set aside.

Whisk together the mustard, salt, pepper, and oil in a medium bowl. Pour over the potatoes and stir gently until the potatoes are coated. Stir in the beans, onion, and tomatoes. If the salad seems dry, drizzle in a little more olive oil. Season with additional salt and pepper.

Just before serving, stir in the parsley and basil.

Serve at room temperature.