Kitchen hacks for perfect potatoes
There’s nothing better than the crunch of a perfectly crispy roast potato, or the warming comfort of creamy (and perfectly cooked) potato bake. Whether it’s playing a starring role in your favourite dinner dish or a support act on the side plate, potatoes are one of Australia’s most loved vegetables. To help you get the most out of your spuds, we’ve rounded up food editor and recipe developer Kerrie Worner’s best kitchen hacks for perfect potatoes, from preparation to presentation.
- The best way to store potatoes is in a dark, dry, well-ventilated, cool place. Try a designated drawer in the pantry, or in a basket away from any heat sources or wet areas.
- Do not store your spuds in the plastic bags you buy them in. Instead, store them in paper bags, loosely wrapped in a tea towel, in a cardboard box with air holes or in potato sacks such as hessian or cotton.
- Only wash potatoes when you’re ready to use them.
- Keep an eye on your potatoes and remove any that are soft, green, or shriveled.
- Avoid storing spuds with onions – they both give off moisture and gas that ripens the other which can lead to faster spoiling.
- Finally, do not refrigerate your spuds as this will change their flavour and may cause discolouring once cooked.
For the crispiest Roast Potatoes
- Peel and cut in half or quarters – the bigger the pieces, the more contrast between the crunchy exterior and a fluffy interior.
- Before getting them into the oven, par-boil until tender but not falling apart.
- Heat enough olive oil to just cover the base of a roasting pan in the oven (200C fan-forced) for 5 minutes BEFORE adding any potatoes.
- After par-boiling, drain and return potatoes to the same saucepan and add 1-2 tbsp of dried polenta. Shake the pan to rough up the edges of potato and coat in polenta (avoiding stirring with a metal spoon as this will break up potatoes). Next, spread in the pre-heated roasting pan and continue to roast until golden.
For Avoiding An Oily Potato Bake
- Always use pure cream, not milk or low-fat milk as it doesn’t contain enough fat. Milk will separate and split during the heating process.
- Add grated cheese to the top after the initial covered cooking time, instead of between layers, to avoid cheese from breaking down and releasing oil.
- Use a mandolin to get consistently thin slices.
- Always cover your potato bake with greased foil and steam (without cheese) for the first hour until potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.
- Remove foil, sprinkle with a grated cheese blend (using all tasty cheese can be too oily and overpowering). Bake for a further 25-30 minutes until golden.
For Hassleback potatoes
- Leave the skin on for added flavour (and to save peeling time – it won’t make much of a difference to crunchiness in the end)
- To slice down, but not through the potato try running a skewer through it’s length or cutting them between two chopsticks. Depending on the size of your Spuds, you can also place the in the well of a wooden spoon – the knife should hit the edges of the spoon before the cutting through the potato.
- For ultimate flavour, add slices of garlic, broken bay leaves or rosemary sprigs in the cuts before coating in oil.
- Get hands-on when it comes to the oil – open the cuts with your fingers so that some of the oil gets down inside the spud.
- Finally, don’t forget a generous sprinkle of salt before you bake.
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