Discover the many uses for potatoes and discover how to make this humble spud more delicious. I’ll reveal the techniques for turning simple potatoes into mouthwatering dishes, from soft and velvety mashed potatoes to golden fries that dance with salt and ketchup. Taste the comforting warmth of a traditional potato soup that soothes the soul, or discover the crispy-skinned delights of baked potatoes stuffed with flavorful toppings. Potatoes provide a blank canvas for culinary inventiveness, whether they are roasted to perfection, mashed and seasoned, or weaved into a gooey gratin. Come along on a culinary adventure with me as we celebrate the various ways to enjoy this wonderful vegetable’s earthy richness.
The world’s favorite side dish, French fries are the epitome of comfort food. They come in various shapes, from shoestrings to thick wedges. Every culture has its favorite dipping sauce. In Europe, it’s creamy aioli. In the US, it’s ketchup. I often go to a burger joint more for the promise of French fries than for the burger itself!
In my opinion, this is the one of the best forms of potato that exists. Also known as jacket potatoes, baked potatoes generally use a russet or Idaho potato with a thick brown skin that crisps up so perfectly in the oven. They are perfect as an easy meal, mixing sour cream, butter, cheese, chives, or other baked potato toppings into their pillow innards.
A fan favorite for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, mashed potatoes are also fun to make. There’s nothing more satisfying than squashing a bunch of boiled potatoes doused in milk and butter. You can also infuse them with different aromatic flavors, whether it’s roasted garlic or parmesan cheese. I recently found a fool-proof recipe for vegan mashed potatoes that needs nothing more than potatoes, salt, and olive oil.
Anything fried tastes better, but potato chips are in a class all their own. Potato chips have the lightest, crispiest crunch that tastes delicious plain or seasoned. There are lots of popular potato chips to choose from. In every country I visit, I love to try a bag of Lays potato chips with seasonings that represent each country’s cuisine. In Canada, I tried ketchup-flavored chips. In Thailand, there were shrimp flavored Lays. The list goes on and on.
A specialty of North America, potato skins come from the thick-skinned varieties popular in the US and Canada. Potato skins also happen to be the most nutrient-rich part of the potato, with a characteristic earthy flavor that tastes delicious smothered in cheese and bacon. They’re a great game-day appetizer and a lot easier and less messy than frying potatoes.
This is a dish that showcases all types of potatoes. It is an easy sheet pan meal that you can season to your liking, throw in the oven, and forget about for an hour or so. I like to chop up my favorite potatoes like sweet potatoes, russets, and fingerling potatoes and season them with salt, pepper, and rosemary for a comforting fall side dish.
A traditional Italian pasta, gnocchi is the Italian version of dumplings. They consist of a simple mixture of potato and flour formed into a dense dough and then rolled into thin cylinders that get cut into bite-sized morsels. They are heartier, denser pasta that tastes great smothered in any variety of sauce, from brown butter and sage to pesto.
A favorite breakfast dish in the US and Britain, hash browns originated in New York diners at the turn of the 20th century. You’ll still see them as constant fixtures on diner flattops across the US. They’re made by grating or finely chopping potatoes and frying them into a hashed round, mound, or block. I love to make them into rounds with chopped onions, like a potato pancake.
Potato salad is a popular dish worldwide, consisting of boiled new potatoes, chopped boiled egg, and crunchy onions or pickles in a creamy mayo-based sauce. It’s the perfect dish to accompany barbecue, burgers, or fried chicken. I like to add celery to my potato salad for extra crunch and a sprinkle of paprika for smokiness.
Invented by the American food company Ore-Ida in 1953, tater tots are the result of a waste-not-want-not philosophy. According to lure, the founders at Ore-Ida were tired of discarding leftover potato scraps, so they decided to add a little flour, mash them through circular holes, and deep fry them to a perfect golden crisp. Who would’ve guessed that they soon became a staple for every child’s meal across the nation?
The height of comfort, potato soup is the perfect hearty fall or winter dinner. There are also dozens of recipes, ranging from creamy potato soup to chunky stews. I like to make a cream of potato soup with cheese, chives, and bacon as garnishes. It tastes like an ultra-decadent liquid baked potato.
Twice Baked Potato
If you have the time and patience for this dish, you’ll be rewarded with two forms of potatoes in one. Twice-baked potatoes are baked potatoes whose innards have been converted into creamy mashed potatoes, returned to their baked skins, topped with cheese, and baked a second time. I like to add mild salsa to the mashed potatoes before topping them with cheddar cheese and chives for a Southwestern twist.
Also known as home fries, breakfast potatoes are pan-fried or skillet-fried potatoes. They’re the poor man’s preparation, using whatever type of potato you have on hand, diced, sliced, or wedged, then tossed in a pan with oil or butter. They’re crispy, buttery, and delicious. You can dress them up with some fried onions and peppers or throw them in a breakfast burrito. The possibilities are endless!
I’ll end on a fancy note, with scalloped potatoes. Also known as potato gratin, scalloped potatoes are a creamy, cheesy casserole side dish often served at steakhouses. They consist of thinly sliced potato rounds stacked horizontally across a casserole dish, then drowned in heavy cream, cheese, and butter and baked to bubbly perfection.