or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › How do you boil potatoes?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How do you boil potatoes?

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

It seems simple enough however I question if one way is better than others.  My mother insists they must be boiled with their skin on to retain flavor.  I have done it that way but have also peeled and cut into cubes before boiling for potato salad.

 

I happened to watch Tyler's Ultimate yesterday and he traveled to Ireland to learn how to make a charming dish colcannon.  The lady who cooked it insisted the potatoes be steamed to retain nutrients and flavor.  So I decided to make a warm potato salad for dinner just to try out this theory.  I steamed them in a double boiler and they were indeed tasty and I patted myself on the back for "retaining some nutrients."  Any truth to this?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #2 of 44

I've always been taught that it was true. Not only with potatoes but with other veggies as well.

 

Whether it actually is I have no idea.

 

Here's the question for which I have no answer: If nutrients lie in and just under the skin, aren't you removing them anytime you peel the potato? Logically it shouldn't matter whether you peel them before or after cooking.

 

What impressed me in that episode was that she steamed the whole potatoes. Strikes me as being a kinder, gentler way of cooking them.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #3 of 44
Thread Starter 

I found it to be kinder and gentler too.  They turned out very nice.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #4 of 44

If you boil potatoes you are doing it wrong anyways lol. Truly boiling a potato is a bad idea...

 

Keeping potatoes in their jackets will help keep them protected from outside moisture, i.e. they won't absorb as much water and become water logged. This will, in turn, keep the potatoes from having a, for lack of a better term, watered down taste and facilitate absorbing of cream/milk/butter/whatever. They will likely turn out fluffier, creamier, and be overall much more delicious. 

 

So, your mother is right. 

post #5 of 44
Thread Starter 

If I want to make mashed potatoes and keep their skins on for cooking, instead of peeling them afterwards can I put them straight through a ricer?  Will the ricer remove the skins?  Just wondering because I'm thinking of purchasing a ricer.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #6 of 44

It's a slow process, KK, because the skins clog the extruder die. Which means after each batch you have to clear the hopper.

 

But the short answer is, yes, you can leave the skins on.

 

You might consider a food mill instead of a ricer. They do, essentially, the same job; except that the mill is faster, and can handle a larger quantity at a time.

 

For limited use, I'd get a Foley mill, which is certainly affordible, as compared to some of the others.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #7 of 44
Thread Starter 

Just bought a food mill!  Can't wait to try it.  Up until now I've always preferred mashed potatoes from a box simply because I don't like lumpy mash and mine always come out lumpy and gummy.  Tasty, but not the right texture.  So I'll try it with a food mill and then if they're still not right I'll break down and get myself a chinoix.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #8 of 44

What kind of mill did you buy, KK?

 

As you develop a feel for it you'll discover more and more uses for a food mill. Potatoes are just the start.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #9 of 44
Thread Starter 

Well there were 2 brands, one was OXO at $40 and one was a no-name brand at half the cost.  I went for the cheaper one.  It had all the same features so I figured it was good to start with, plus I've tried out a few OXO products I wasn't too fond of so that steered my decision as well.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #10 of 44

One thing I have to say about food mills: arm yourself with a lot of patience. Having said that, that's usually my tool of choice for mashed potatoes. Enjoy! smile.gif

 

I usually prefer to steam potatoes rather than boil, but an exception is large russet potatoes, where each potato is way over 1lb. Those take forever to steam and sometimes you still find small uncooked bits, which is the best route to lumpy mashed potatoes with bits of raw potato inside - the worst. So those I'll boil, or cook in the oven if I have time. 

 

Mashed potatoes is one of those things that are simple but take time, care and experience to do right. But do them right and they're excellent. 

 

A classic interview of a famous French Chef in L.A.: 

- Interviewer: So will you be sharing with us the recipe for your famous mashed potatoes? 

- French Chef: Oh of course, no secret there, it's easy: for each pound of potatoes, add one pound of cream and one pound of butter. 

 

biggrin.gif

post #11 of 44

Why patience, FF? Compared to a ricer, a food mill is spelled speedy.

 

I've only recently started steaming spuds. With the russets I cut them in pieces about the same size as new potatoes. They cook fine that way, albiet without 100% of any benefits leaving them completely unpeeled.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #12 of 44

I've never used a ricer KYH, so I wouldn't be able to compare both. In my house the alternative was always between food mill and fork. Fork was the fast easy way, Food mill was the slow patient way (including a bit more patience for washing it vs a fork). To this day I still use both, depending on the time I have and the result I want. So yeah, slow, not compared to a ricer, but compared to a fork. 

 

Also, depending on the size of the holes in the disc at the bottom of the mill, the process is more or less slaw. If Kouk is used to dehydrated boxed mashed potatoes, she'll probably want the finer perforations, which are slower. 

 

post #13 of 44

Basic Rules:

 

  • Speed of a mill relative to a ricer, depends on the mill and ricer.   Smaller = slower.

 

  • Roughly 1/2 cup milk and or and 4 tbs butter (1/4 cup, 1/2 stick) to each pound of potatoes.  That's rich enough to qualify as French.  The right amounts of milk and butter makes the potatoes seem lighter than those which are too thin or too soupy.  Go figure.

 

  • If the spuds are cooked in water (steamed or boiled), cook the water off the potatoes, before ricing, milling or mashing.  I prefer boiling because it's faster, makes the potatoes easier to mash, gets the salt balance right, and -- as implied -- it's easy enough to boil off the extra water.  But your call.

 

  • HOT milk + cream; if you're mashing, you can heat the dairy in the same pan as the potatoes after the potatoes are drained and the water cooked off. If you've milled or riced, you need a separate pan to heat the dairy.

 

  • COLD butter.  Work cold butter into the hot milk and potato mixture, just until the butter is incorporated.  If you're mashing, you can work the butter in with your masher while you mash, mash, smash.

 

  • Do not, as in DO NOT, overwork the potatoes. 

 

  • Adjust for salt

 

BDL

What were we talking about?
 
http://www.cookfoodgood.com
Reply
What were we talking about?
 
http://www.cookfoodgood.com
Reply
post #14 of 44

depending on the size of the holes in the disc at the bottom of the mill,

 

Just out of curiosity, FF, what mill do you use?

 

Speed of a mill relative to a ricer, depends on the mill and ricer.   Smaller = slower.

 

I've never seen a mill smaller than the Foley, and it's total capacity (I'm estimating) is three to four times that of my ricer.

 

Foley mills have holes smaller than my ricer, and actually provide a finer mash. The Oxy that Koukouvagia looked at comes with three different screens, and I imagine at least one of them is at least as fine as the Foley. Although I haven't tried it with potatoes, three of the four screens available for my Victorio are finer than my ricer.

 

The larger the ricer the more awkward it is to use, so there's a trade-off there, in terms of speed. Most women I know can not get their hands around the handles of the larger ricers I've seen. Friend Wife has trouble with the one I have, in fact.

 

When making mashed potatoes, it takes as many as six fillings with my ricer, and I have to clear the screen each time--not to mention putting up with the spillage when the plunger lifts pulp out of the recepticle. With the Foley I do the same job with two fillings, only clear it when I'm done, and there is no spillage. The hopper on the Victorio is large enough that it would hold the spuds all at once.

 

I'm going to have to try the Victorio with potatoes one of these days.

 

So, while there are advantages to a ricer, speed, as compared to a mill, isn't one of them.

 

I prefer boiling because it's faster, makes the potatoes easier to mash

 

I'm not convinced that's true. Although I've just started steaming them, my gut impression is that the total cooking time is less. And they mash just the same.

 

My actual preference is to start with baked potatoes. But, of course, that's much more time consuming.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #15 of 44

Could one "steam" them in a pressure cooker? Assuming it doesn't obliterate them, would seem like the best of all worlds. Fast and nutrients are kept in.

 

Doug

post #16 of 44

Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

I prefer boiling because it's faster, makes the potatoes easier to mash

 

I'm not convinced that's true. Although I've just started steaming them, my gut impression is that the total cooking time is less. And they mash just the same.

 

What's good for the Texas School Board is good for the USA, and the laws of the physical universe simply can't compete.  The relative efficiencies of immersion conduction and convection conduction are meaningless.  Always trust your gut impression. 

 

They do mash just the same as long as they're cut in similar sized pieces and cooked to the same relative degree of doneness -- things I should have mentioned.  They mill and rice just the same.  Dress them up in pinafores and bows, and they're equally as cute.

 

BDL

What were we talking about?
 
http://www.cookfoodgood.com
Reply
What were we talking about?
 
http://www.cookfoodgood.com
Reply
post #17 of 44

Could one "steam" them in a pressure cooker?

 

I don't see why not. You'd have to experiment to get the cooking time down, but other than that it should work just fine.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #18 of 44

Peel, chop, boil, drain into ricer.  Salt in boiling water, season again with salt and pepper as they sit in the ricer, toss butter onto the pre-riced potatoes, crank the handle, stir cream into mashed potato, check seasoning.   Thats how I do it. 

post #19 of 44

i start with cold water skin on, bring to boil and cook untill tender. the only moisture u want to add is by cream and butter, thats why i go skin on. and bringing to a boil from cold helps to evenly cook the potato outside in!

post #20 of 44
Thread Starter 

I've had a complete change of heart, I'm never cutting up or peeling my potatoes before boiling again.  And I'm not going to boil anymore, steaming is the way to go. 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #21 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

I've had a complete change of heart, I'm never cutting up or peeling my potatoes before boiling again.  And I'm not going to boil anymore, steaming is the way to go. 


There you go! Like I said, the only exception would be very large potatoes, like a 1lb and 1/2 russet (we get those often around here). Even after 75mn of steaming they still wouldn't be thoroughly cooked, and they seem to cook much faster but also better in water (better in the sense that they cook more uniformly). Anything else I steam - never ever cut or peel. 

 

post #22 of 44

I use a food mill, was thinking thats the same thing as a ricer.   

 

The food mill gives the texture I want, I put a lot of cream and butter and creme fraiche in there.   I do have a convection steamer to work with, I'll give whole unpeeled a try one of  these days.  

post #23 of 44

This is going to sound like a very stupid question: How might one go about steaming potatoes? Without owning a steamer basket? Unfortunately, my pressure cooker is done for: missing weights and a wonky old seal.

 

Also, one can make "baked" potatoes in the microwave *very* quickly. I normally eschew my microwave except for the odd bowl of instant oatmeal, but potatoes cooked in one seem to emerge self steamed if cooked properly. I might experiment with this when the food mill arrives (I eBAYed a cheap, clean, original Foley model 101 given the terrible reviews current production units get. Go with what you know...)

 

Doug

 

 

 

 

post #24 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phreon View Post

This is going to sound like a very stupid question: How might one go about steaming potatoes? Without owning a steamer basket? Unfortunately, my pressure cooker is done for: missing weights and a wonky old seal.

 

Also, one can make "baked" potatoes in the microwave *very* quickly. I normally eschew my microwave except for the odd bowl of instant oatmeal, but potatoes cooked in one seem to emerge self steamed if cooked properly. I might experiment with this when the food mill arrives (I eBAYed a cheap, clean, original Foley model 101 given the terrible reviews current production units get. Go with what you know...)

 

Doug

 

 

 

 


No steamer basket? My god man, every house in America has one of those. Next time you are at your mother's, or grandmothers, or mother-in-law's house, check the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. Odds are there are at least 3 steamer baskets...I'm sure you could have one. I'm also sure your local kitchen supply or grocery store would sell one for less than 10 dollars. 

 

In a pinch, you could try...using a metal colander in a pot big enough to hold it and a couple inches of water. Wadding up some aluminum foil to hold the potatoes above the simmering water. Taking the potatoes in the shower with you. Thats all I got. 

 

This thread takes me back to my days as a young line cook working the sides/starch station at a high end restaurant. EVERY DAY I had to take like 20 lbs of potatoes (or more, depending on how busy we expected to be) and make potato puree out of it. We only used Yukon Gold potatoes, which, by the way, are excellent for making mashed potatoes/potato puree. If all you've ever used are russets give them a try sometime. 

 

It went like this:

 

Scrub potatoes clean

Cover with cold water...salt the water

Bring to a simmer

Simmer until tender with a paring knife

Drain, but leave about an inch of hot water in the bottom of the pan to keep the remaining potatoes hot while you peel

Peel potatoes with a paring knife (the tip of my right thumb no no longer feels pain, all the nerves are dead lol)

Food mill into a large rondeau

Add hot cream, mix gently to combine, then emulsify in ungodly amounts of cold, cubed, whole butter, keeping puree very hot the entire time

Season, adjust, more cream, more butter if needed, etc.

Pass through a tamis/drum sieve while still piping hot

Hold, hot, above stove in a pan and keep backup covered with buttered parchment or butter wrappers in the steam well

 

EVERY DAY.

 

But hey, I make killer potato puree now. When I do everyone loves me. I call them once a year potatoes because you should only eat them once a year...they are so rich. 

 

I've been in kitchens where the cooks dry out the potatoes first as well, after cooking but before they add cream/butter. The might be poached in their jackets until tender, then laid out on a sheet pan, cut open slightly (like if you are going to dress a baked potato) and dried in the oven for 5-10 minutes to get rid of residual water/steam. This allows the potatoes to take on more of the good stuff like butter/cream. 

 

 

post #25 of 44

I suppose I deserve a theatrical reply for not being descriptive enough. How does one steam potatoes in a useful quantity? I have (or had) one of those goofy fold up steamer baskets everyone seems to have in their drawer, but it rarely saw use so I converted it into a WIFI antenna.  Mom and Grandma had several of them lost in a drawer because they never used them; I never saw it. When I make mashed potatoes, I tend to make at least 5 pounds. The folding steamer I had would have held 3-4 medium Russets and maybe 4-5 Yukon golds. When I think "steamer", I think of a stainless basket that nests in another pot (I don't own one of these), though I like the idea of a big metal colander in the bottom of my stock pot. Perhaps it's time to take another trip to the local restaurant supply.

 

Thanks,

 

Doug


Edited by Phreon - 12/6/11 at 5:03am
post #26 of 44

Phreon, I have several actual steamers, but don't think any of them would hold five pounds at once.

 

Perhaps you could jury rig a large colander and stock pot? You might have to create a foil collar to extend up the sides of the colander and effect a good seal. But it should work fine.

 

Also, one can make "baked" potatoes in the microwave *very* quickly.

 

Not for nothing, but if you're using the microwave you're already steaming them. That's how the nuker works. It bugs me when folks do this and call them baked.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post


Also, one can make "baked" potatoes in the microwave *very* quickly.

 

Not for nothing, but if you're using the microwave you're already steaming them. That's how the nuker works. It bugs me when folks do this and call them baked.


Actually, that was my point. If I want a real baked potato, I'll toss it in the oven with an aluminum gutter spike jammed through the middle or I'll wrap it in foil and lay it directly on the grill coals. But "baking" them in microwave is really just steaming, which might be a quick way to make small batches of mashed potatoes.

 

I had never considered using a food mill to make mashed potatoes. That's why I love this site: learning new ideas (even if they're old hat to most of you).

 

Doug

 

post #28 of 44

[I]f you're using the microwave you're already steaming them. That's how the nuker works. It bugs me when folks do this and call them baked.

 

Not true.  Perhaps not entirely false in the sense that microwave ovens work by preferentially heating the liquid within food (preferential, because the molecules can already move and are better able to absorb microwave energy).  Steaming -- at least in my universe -- involves using heated moisture from the outside. 

 

Because there's no water added, microwaved potatoes are much dryer than boiled or steamed. 

 

I know how you feel.  It bugs me when people give half-baked science explanations.

 

BDL

What were we talking about?
 
http://www.cookfoodgood.com
Reply
What were we talking about?
 
http://www.cookfoodgood.com
Reply
post #29 of 44


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

 

Not true.  Perhaps not entirely false in the sense that microwave ovens work by preferentially heating the liquid within food (preferential, because the molecules can already move and are better able to absorb microwave energy).  Steaming -- at least in my universe -- involves using heated moisture from the outside. 

 

Because there's no water added, microwaved potatoes are much dryer than boiled or steamed. 

 

I know how you feel.  It bugs me when people give half-baked science explanations.

 

BDL

 

Perhaps "self steamed" is a more accurate way to describe nuked potatoes. Come to think of it, converting traditionally baked potatoes into mashed potatoes sounds interesting. Almost half of twice baked potatoes I suppose. Can we apply fuzzy logic and consider them truly half baked? It seems many of my thoughts are that way anyway.

 

Doug
 

 


Edited by Phreon - 12/6/11 at 10:01am
post #30 of 44
  • Everything exposed to enough heat energy is "self steamed," by that logic.  Self steaming is why potatoes get "fluffy" when appropriately baked or fried.  Don't take this too seriously, equating microwaving to steaming is common.  It may be wrong, but it's conventionally wrong.

 

  • Using baked potatoes for mashing has pluses and minuses.   They're nicely dry and absorb butter and dairy well, but they over work very easily.  So, better with a mill or a ricer than a smasher.  Even so, I prefer boiled potatoes because it's quicker and I can "layer" the salt; but I do dry mine before mashing.

 

  • Your ideas might be more twice than half baked.  Always hard to tell.  Do you think about cheese and bacon often?

 

BDL

What were we talking about?
 
http://www.cookfoodgood.com
Reply
What were we talking about?
 
http://www.cookfoodgood.com
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Food & Cooking
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › How do you boil potatoes?