The differences between the most common kinds, oven vs. stovetop — and how to make the best fries of your life.
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Learn the difference between the most common types of potatoes.
Waxy potatoes — like Dutch baby, red potatoes, or fingerling potatoes — are best for roasting. They're low in starch and high in moisture, which means they can hold their shape better and are ideal as roasted potatoes, potato salads, and scalloped potatoes.
If you’re frying or baking potatoes, pick a starchy potato — like an Idaho Russet.
These potatoes are high in starch and low in moisture which gives them the fluffy quality you want in French fries or baked potatoes.
When in doubt, go for a Yukon Gold.
Yukon gold are both waxy and starchy — so they're super versatile. They also have an amazing creamy texture which makes them ideal for mashed potatoes.
If you’re roasting potatoes, parboil (aka pre-boil) them first.
To parboil your potatoes, just place them in boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes before roasting them. It'll make sure the potatoes cook more evenly, and will allow them to get even crispier.
When roasting potatoes, make sure you really season them *before* they hit the oven.
All you really need is olive oil, salt, and pepper. But you can also get creative and add other spices (I'm a fan of paprika) or herbs (rosemary is always a hit). But the most important thing is to make sure you season your potatoes thoroughly.
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Don’t overcrowd your roasting pan.
If the potatoes are too close together, the moisture will end up steaming them and the potatoes will turn out soft and mushy. And that's definitely not what you want.
When boiling or mashing potatoes, start cooking them in cold water.
Don't put your potatoes in the pot when the water is already boiling. Instead, add them when it's still cold so everything can heat up together. This will ensure your potatoes cook evenly and don't get mushy on the outside.
If you don’t have a masher or a potato ricer, you can also use a fine mesh sieve to mash your potatoes.
If you push the cooked potato through the sieve you'll get super smooth mashed potatoes. It might be a bit of a hassle, but it's also definitely worth it if you're a fan of super creamy mashed potatoes.
When adding milk and cream to potatoes, make sure the liquid is warm.
If you add cold milk to hot potatoes, it'll bring the temperature down and prevent the potatoes from really absorbing the liquid and becoming their creamiest self.
When oven-baking whole potatoes, prick them a few times with a fork first.
Otherwise, they could explode in your oven. (It's not super likely that that would happen, but you don't want to take that chance.) The holes also allow some of the moisture to escape, which means you'll get even fluffier potatoes.
When making French fries, place your raw fries in a bowl of cold water right after they’re cut.
That'll clean up a lot of the starch in the potato which will give you crispier fries.
But make sure you really pat them dry after that step.
Excess moisture = limp fries.
And cut them into pieces of similar sizes.
This way, they'll cook evenly and you won't end up with any random burnt fries in the middle.
Double fry your French fries to get them super crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
First, fry your potatoes at a lower heat (325°F/160°C) for a few minutes until they're soft and almost cooked through but still very pale. Dump them onto your drying rack and immediately season them with salt. Then, crank up the heat of the oil to 375°F/190°C. Once the oil is at that temperature, put the fries back in and fry them for a few minutes until they're dark and crunchy. Dump them on the drying rack and season them again. And voilà! Perfect fries.