The humble spud is less colorful and visually interesting than other vegetables, yet other veggies pale in comparison to the potato’s versatility and popularity. Potatoes are a global commodity and used in cuisines across the world, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We roast them, fry them, mash them, even soup and salad them.
But perhaps your potato game needs something new? Locally-raised specimens are abundant at the farmers markets now. Here are some ideas to spruce up your next potato encounter.
Pommes Anna or Anna potatoes In this classic dish from France, the potatoes are sliced very thin, mixed with butter and herbs, stacked in layers, then baked. As the potatoes cook and soften in the middle, the edges crisp up resulting in almost potato perfection. Move over French fries! Using the same concept but layering the potatoes in a muffin tin produces individual mini potato stacks that make perfect little appetizers or accompaniments to a main dish.
Hasselback potatoes. They’re essentially fancy baked potatoes. Before cooking, make thin slices across the whole potato (about the width of a cracker) but not all the way through, so the potato ends up looking almost like an accordion. With no more prepping, bake these into an eye-pleasing, multi-textured dish. They can then be seasoned however you would enjoy a typical baked potato. I take mine with lots of butter, chives, and perhaps some extra crisp bacon.
Potato scones This well known Irish and Scottish dish basically begins with boiling potatoes then mashing them with butter, salt and pepper, and adding flour. It’s like making a dough with flour and potatoes. Then roll it out, cut with a pastry wheel (just like pizza), and cook on a hot griddle or skillet for about 4-5 minutes each side. It’s similar to cooking pancakes but with dough rather than batter.
Leftover mashed and freezing Speaking of pancakes, potato pancakes is one of my favorite ways to use leftover mashed potatoes. I recently discovered a great little trick: Make the potato pancake mixture by adding an egg or two, salt and pepper to leftover mashers. Then use a waffle iron to cook them. Simply add a good scoop of the mixture and close. It cooks the cakes evenly on both sides and helps keep them together. This technique even has a name: potaffles. Seriously, how great is that? You must cook them just for an excuse to say “potaffle.”
Croquettes are another delicious way to use leftover mashed potatoes. They’re basically little mashed potato balls that are breaded and fried. They make fantastic appetizers and kids love them. The process is a bit time consuming but so worth it. Simply add a little flour and egg to mashed potatoes, then chill. Make balls of the mixture, dip in egg, then roll in breadcrumbs. Pan-fry them in oil on the stove.
In the right conditions—dark and just the right cool temperature—raw potatoes can keep for months. But not all of us have those perfect conditions. So consider freezing an abundance of farm-fresh, local potatoes from the market. You first need to blanch them. Cut them into the size and shape you like, then plunge in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Then plunge the potatoes in an ice water bath to halt the cooking process. Once cooled, place in a freezer safe, air-tight bag and store in freezer.
Once the potatoes are sliced, the cheese, meat and herb combinations are endless, making for a versatile recipe. I made two different flavor combinations that both were phenomenal. Stuffing the potatoes in a muffin tins resulted in pretty stacks that would make great appetizers. I also tried stacking a few outside of the muffin tins on a sheet tray with the larger slices of potato. Those were equally delicious but less neat in appearance. I used the thinnest option on my mandolin to slice the potatoes. This recipe was inspired by a recipe on the blog, A Family Feast.
1 ½ lbs. red potatoes (roughly the same size)
salt and pepper
3 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary finely chopped
1 Tbsp. honey
½ cup gorgonzola cheese crumbled
1 Tbsp. roasted garlic, mashed
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme finely chopped
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 375°. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Peel each potato, placing in cold water once peeled*. Combine butter, oil, and your choice of flavor combinations except the cheese and warm in microwave or on the stove top until butter is melted. Add cheese, reserving a little to top at the end.
Remove potatoes from water and let them dry. Using the thinnest option on your mandolin (or slice thinly by hand), slice potatoes into thin discs and place in a large bowl. Pour the butter and cheese mixture over potatoes, season with salt and pepper. Gently mix so potatoes are well coated and cheese is well incorporated.
Coat muffin tin generously with pan spray, oil or butter. Stack potato discs in each muffin cup. Top with reserved cheese. Bake 40-45 minutes until edges are crisp. Remove from oven and let cool in tin for about 10 minutes. With a spoon, work around the edges to release, then carefully lift out of muffin tin. Season again with salt and pepper if necessary.
This recipe can be made a day ahead, then baked before serving.
*Note: Potato skins are nutrition packed, so keep the skins on whenever you can. The delicate skins of red potatoes especially don’t need to be peeled off, but in this recipe will result in a less “finished” looking product. You make the call.