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Cooking Potatoes to Perfection (and Other Potato Secrets)

Discover some simple hacks to speed up potato prep and improve cooking techniques.

By Vicki Martinez

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Batata, papa, pomme de terre, kartoffel, brambor, spud. In any language the potato is a staple used in culinary creations across the globe. From peeling, cooking and using leftovers, we’ve got the tricks you need to quickly prep and enjoy potatoes

Potato Peeling 101 

No longer will peeling potatoes be associated with maritime punishment when you use this quick peel trick. 

  1. Add potatoes to a pot of boiling water. 
  2. Boil for 15 minutes. 
  3. While boiling, prepare a simple ice bath in a large bowl or sink. 
  4. Set boiled potatoes in cold water until cool enough to handle (2-4 minutes). 
  5. Use a knife to slice the skin around the circumference of the potato (slicing the skin before boiling will also work). 
  6. Enjoy how easy it is to peel the skin away with your fingers. 

This is a terrific way to peel a lot of potatoes quickly, plus have them ready to move onto the next step of cooking. 

Speedy Spuds 

Don’t let prep time keep you from enjoying a delicious potato side. These hacks speed up cooking time. 

  • Reduce boiling time for mashed potatoes by cutting potatoes into small cubes or thin slices 
  • Eliminate the need to peel potatoes by boiling varieties with thinner skins (choose white potatoes like Cobbler, Kennebec, or White Rose). Your mashed potatoes get the added benefit of the extra vitamins and nutrients found in potato skin. 
  • Reduce roasting time by choosing the smaller varieties of potato like fingerlings or petite potatoes 
  • Whip up a last-minute side of roasted potatoes by cooking in the microwave for 3-4 minutes first (make sure to poke a few holes first). Chop your par-cooked potato into bite sized chunks, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake in a 450-degree oven for 15-20 minutes. 
  • You can cut your baked potato cook time in half by using the same par cooking method above, then place your whole potato in a preheat 400-degree oven for 20-30 minutes. 

TIP: For softer, steamed skins wrap potatoes in foil; if you prefer a crispy skin with your baked potato place directly on the rack without foil. 

LeftoversSmeftovers: Create a Second Meal 

Preparing too many potatoes is never a bad thing, especially when the leftovers are as versatile as potatoes. 

  • Use leftover mashed potatoes to make potato pancakes, mashed potato puffs, Shephard’s pie, croquettes, potato crusted quiche, potato rolls, mashed potato waffles, and loaded bakes potato soup. For starters. 
  • Out of corn starch? Add a couple dollops of mashed potatoes to thicken gravy. 
  • Don’t throw out those potato peels. Give them a quick soak and scrub (or better yet, buy pre-washed potatoes); dry off, toss with oil, salt and pepper (use other spices as you desire), roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, stirring once. Dip in ketchup or hot sauce for a healthy, crispy potato snack. 
  • Leftover roasted potatoes can also have a second life. Chop up larger pieces and add to a skillet with your favorite hash ingredients. Top a salad with room temperature leftovers for a crouton-like bite. Add potatoes to your curry dish at the end of cooking—just enough to warm them through. And, because they’re already chopped and cooked, these flavorful leftovers are begging to be transformed into a delicious potato salad.  

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