3 *other* ways to prepare potatoes, according to a golf club chef
A dumb phrase on the course, but a delicious dish. And it’s not the only great thing you can do with what the French call the pomme de terre, or ’apple of the earth.’
Me? I love potatoes. Low in calories and nutrient-rich, it’s no wonder they’ve been turned into the star on tasting menus by any number of top chefs.
In my own kitchens, I’ve shaved them paper-thin and pressed them with fresh herbs to produce distinctive potato chips. I’ve made classically inspired potato soufflés. I’ve dehydrated potatoes and shaped them into edible lattices.
This list goes on.
A straight-up baked potato is a simple pleaser (just don’t leave them out at room temperature for more than 90 minutes). And good French fries are hard to beat, but they’re messy and high maintenance to make at home.
Amid a world of options, I’d like to offer three potato-focused dishes that are easy to make and hard to resist.
A more elegant cousin of mashed potatoes, silky-smooth potato puree is a must for your culinary arsenal. Follow a few key pointers, and you’ll shine like a Michelin star.
1. Peel and cut potatoes into uniform size.
2. Place them in a pot of salted water, but don’t boil them. Bring them to a gentle simmer until they are fork-tender.
3. Strain the potatoes and let some steam escape. The drier they are, the better. Sometimes, I even heat them in a 350-degree oven for a minute and a half.
4. With a masher or a hand-mixer, break up the potatoes until they have no lumps. If you have a potato ricer, use it.
5. Now, add warm cream and room-temperature butter, and mix until everything is well-incorporated but not beyond that. Overdo it, and you’ll create a paste.
6. A sprinkling of nutmeg is a nice finishing touch. Like shaping a 7-iron around a dogleg, you don’t have to do it. But it’s highly satisfying when you do it well.
Cast-Iron Smashed Potatoes
A cast-iron pan is great for cooking potatoes, providing steady and evenly distributed heat to impart a delicious golden crust. For this preparation, I recommend poaching small, skin-on potatoes with herb and garlic, then letting them cool and dry out in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, let them come to room temperature, then crush them gently with the palm or your hand before frying them in the cast iron with garlic and fresh thyme until the potatoes are beautifully seared and crusty. To me, this is a meal that gets even better when topped with caponata, tapenade or even spicy brown mustard.
Small potatoes roasted beautifully and quickly. About 18 minutes in a 425-degree oven should do. Once again, cast iron comes into play. I like to pre-heat the oven with my cast-iron skillet inside, so it’s nice and hot when I add the potatoes. As the oven pre-heats, scrub your potatoes, leaving the skin on, then toss with olive oil, fresh-cracked black pepper, sea salt and herbs. You can add pearl onions if you have them. This dish makes a great side for roast chicken, grilled steak—-almost anything you’re serving. Any leftovers can be tossed the next day with vinegar, olive oil and toasted caraway seeds for a very tasty potato salad. I recommend pairing it with Pinot noir, or a rye-based cocktail like a Sazerac.
Shaun Lewis, a classically trained chef and cocktail master, is the general manager at Old Westbury Golf & Country Club, on Long Island.