The humble potato is a versatile side dish

Fried, baked, boiled or mashed, this versatile vegetable is a delicious and nutritious addition to any meal


It’s time to give the humble potato a break.

While potatoes have been scorned by those on low-carb diets, they have plenty of health benefits and are delicious.

They are a mainstay of many meals and a versatile side dish. After all, what’s a burger without fries or chips.

Try making your own chips. Use a mandoline or a sharp knife to cut two large potatoes into slices about the thickness of a dime. Carefully add the slices, one at a time, to two quarts of olive oil that’s been heated to 300 degrees in a four-quart Dutch oven. Using a spider, constantly move the slices for three to four minutes, until golden brown and crisp.

Remove the chips with the spider, allowing some of the excess oil to drain off, and place in a large, paper-towel lined bowl. Shake to remove additional oil.

Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain the temperature and continue frying potatoes in small batches. Sprinkle the chips with kosher salt. Remove the paper towels and serve.

But there are plenty of other ways to make potatoes shine. They can be roasted, masked, baked or boiled and served with or without their skins.

It is best to eat potatoes with their skins, because that’s where many of the nutrients are.  If you need to peel potatoes, it’s best to boil them in their skins and peel them afterwards.

A simple baked potato can become a centerpiece of the meal — a less caloric one at that — if you top it with toasted sesame seeds, whipped butter and poppy seeds, a spoon full of stewed tomatoes and a bit of grated cheese, melted butter or margarine thinned with lemon juice, a mix of dried herbs such as parsley, chives, basil and dill, some chopped onion with coarsely grated black pepper, chive-spiked yogurt or salsa.

They are a healthy side dish as well. Potatoes are fat-free, cholesterol-free and a good source of minerals, vitamin B6 and dietary fiber. They are also high in potassium and vitamin C.

Potatoes are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates.

When buying potatoes, don’t buy spuds that are soft or have excessive cuts, cracks, bruises, discoloration or decay. Choose potatoes that are free of sprouts, green skin, or spots.

Potatoes should be stored in a dark, dry place that is well ventilated.

Following are a few potato recipes from

Roasted Potato Peels

Peels from 6 large russet potatoes, kept in a bowl of water to avoid discoloration
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch paprika
Pinch dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Sprinkle of sea salt

    Drain the peels and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Dry peels thoroughly, then discard the paper towels. Pour the butter, oil, kosher salt, pepper, paprika and oregano over the peels and toss.
    Roast in a 400-degree oven about 20 minutes, stirring once, until crisp and golden. Place peels in a serving dish, sprinkle with chives and sea salt and toss.


Potato Pancakes

8 Yukon gold potatoes
2 to 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, smashed
Kosher salt
2 eggs
Extra-virgin olive oil

    Grate five potatoes on the largest holes of a box grater. Toss potatoes with vinegar and place in a mesh strainer. Place a couple plates on top to help squeeze out excess water for at least 30 minutes.
    Cut remaining potatoes into six pieces each. Place in a saucepan with the garlic, then add water until covered by one inch. Season generously with salt, bring to a boil, reduce temperature and simmer 10 to 12 minutes, until fork tender. Strain and, while potatoes are still hot, pass them through a food mill or mash with a potato masher.
    Combine grated potatoes and the mashed potatoes.
    In a small dish, beat eggs and add to the potato mixture. Season with salt.
    Coat a large saute or cast iron pan with olive oil and bring to a medium high heat. Make three-inch patties of the potato mixture, place in pan and cook three to four minutes per side, until browned and crispy. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
    Blot pancakes on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Place on a sheet tray in a 200-degree oven to keep warm while cooking additional batches.


Irish Cheddar, Bacon and Potato Muffins

1 large Yukon Gold potato
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 slices bacon, chopped
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1 large egg
3/4 cup diced Irish cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

    Prick potato all over with a fork. Wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave four to five minutes, turning after two minutes, until just cooked through. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin and grate the potato on the large holes of a box grater. Season with two pinches each salt and pepper and gently toss.
    Cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp. Place on a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve one tablespoon bacon drippings.
    Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center.
    Whisk buttermilk, melted butter, egg and reserved bacon drippings in a medium bowl. Pour into the well in the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in grated potato, bacon, cheese and chives.
    Divide batter among 12 muffin cups with paper liners, filling them to the top. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 22 to 25 minutes, until muffins are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let muffins cool five minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely.


French Potato Salad

1 pound small white boiling potatoes
1 pound small red boiling potatoes
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons chicken stock
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 tablespoons good olive oil
1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves

    Place white and red potatoes into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook 20 to 30 minutes, until just cooked through. Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes to steam them for 10 more minutes. As soon as you can handle them, cut in halves or quarters and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the wine and chicken stock. Allow liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.
    Combine vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes.
    Add scallions, dill, parsley, basil, remaining salt, and pepper and toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Crispy Potato Balls

1-1/2 cups cold mashed potatoes
1/4 cup flour
1 large egg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying
Kosher salt

    Mix together the mashed potatoes, flour, egg, parsley, Parmesan, mozzarella and black pepper in a bowl. Place breadcrumbs on a large plate.
    Form the potato mixture into 12 golf-ball-sized balls. The mixture will be a little sticky, so wet your hands a little as you go. Place the balls on the breadcrumbs and roll, pressing to make sure they stick well. Put the breadcrumbed balls on a plate.
    Heat two inches of oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven to 375 degrees, or until the mixture bubbles when a breadcrumb is added. Fry the balls in the oil for three to five minutes, until golden brown on all sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle immediately with salt.
    Garnish with more Parmesan and parsley.



Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

Nonstick cooking spray
6 slices bacon, cut 1/2-inch thick
2-1/4 pounds russet potatoes, cleaned, cut into 1-inch chunks
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup sour cream
2 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

    Cook bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat six to seven minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve two tablespoons bacon drippings.
    Put potatoes into a three-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Toss with reserved bacon drippings, one teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast in a 425-degree oven about 45 minutes, until potatoes are soft and begin to brown.
    Mix cream cheese and one cup cheddar cheese in a bowl until well combined. Dollop over the potatoes, then sprinkle with the remaining cheddar and bake 13 to 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly and potatoes are cooked through.
    Dollop sour cream evenly over the casserole and sprinkle with the scallions and bacon pieces.


Potato Latkes

2 large baking potatoes
1 extra-large egg, whisked
3 tablespoons flour
1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons clarified butter

    Peel potatoes and grate with a box grater. Wrap potatoes in a kitchen towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Combine potatoes with the egg, flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well.
    Melt clarified butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Place a tablespoon of the potato mixture in the pan and cook two minutes. Turn pancakes over and cook another two minutes, until crisp on the outside and golden brown. Serve hot from the skillet.
    To make clarified butter, slowly melt four tablespoons butter in a small saucepan. Set aside until the milk solids settle. Spoon off any solids that rise, then carefully pour off the golden liquid, discarding the milky part in the bottom of the pan.



Potato Puffs

2 large russet potatoes, peeled
Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1 large egg plus 3 egg yolks
Peanut or vegetable oil, for deep-frying

    Put potatoes in a medium pot, cover with cold water and season with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook about 20 minutes, until fork-tender. Drain. Pass potatoes through a ricer or mash with a potato masher until smooth.
    Combine milk, butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Return saucepan to the stove and cook over low heat about one minute, stirring, until the mixture comes together and pulls away from the side of the pan. Continue stirring about four minutes, until mixture is slightly shiny.
    Transfer mixture to a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed about one1 minute. Add half the mashed potatoes and the whole egg and beat until incorporated. Add remaining potatoes and the egg yolks and beat about one minute, until creamy and smooth. Transfer mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip.
    Set a large piece of parchment paper on a cutting board and pipe about 24 mounds that are one to 1-1/2-inches across on the parchment. Cut parchment between the mounds with a paring knife so each puff sits on its own piece of paper.
    Heat two inches peanut oil in a large pot until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325 degrees. Working in batches, invert each puff and parchment into the oil. The parchment will fall off as the puffs cook; remove it with tongs. Fry six to eight minutes, turning as needed, until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with salt.



Crispy Bits Breakfast Potatoes

Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds red potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons butter, melted

    Bring salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the potatoes and boil about 15 minutes, until nearly fork-tender but not falling apart. Drain and allow to dry thoroughly, then cut into wedges.
    Heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a skillet. Add potatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper and pan-fry 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.



Crispy Potato Skin Scoops

1 pound baby Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
Canola oil
1/2 cup potato starch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely shredded sharp Cheddar  cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper, for serving

    Place potatoes on a microwave-safe plate in an even layer, then microwave on high five to six minutes, flipping each halfway through, until knife-tender. Set aside to cool slightly.
    Cut each potato in half crosswise. Use a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop out the potato, leaving a thin border around the edge. Transfer scooped-out potato to a medium bowl, cover and reserve.
    Fill a large heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven with two inches of canola oil and attach a deep-fry thermometer to the pot. Heat the oil to 350 degrees over medium-high heat.  
    Whisk potato starch and 1/3 cup water in a medium bowl until smooth. Dip potato shells into the potato-starch slurry, letting any excess drip back into the bowl, then carefully lower into the hot oil. Cook in batches about four minutes, until well browned and crispy. Remove from the hot oil and place, cut-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels. Season with salt, then flip over to drain.
    Add butter to the scooped-out potato flesh and heat in the microwave about three minutes, stirring halfway through, until warm. Use a fork or potato masher to mash the potato until almost smooth, then stir in sour cream, cheddar, scallions, 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper until combined.  
    Using the 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon, spoon filling into the crispy potato skin scoops. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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