Potatoes. If we’re honest, we’re a little bit obsessed. There’s so much you can do with a trusty old spud, with some of our favourite dishes incorporating them magnificently. Sadly, however, many find it hard to break out of routine for these root vegetables. So, if you’re tired of mash or have had enough roasties for a lifetime, this article will reignite your love for one of the most versatile foods out there, with the best ways to eat a potato.
Is it pasta? Is it a dumpling? Whatever you want to call it, gnocchi is one of our favourite ways to consume potatoes. These small dough balls exist all around Italy in different variations, accompanied with light and delicious sauces, from tomato and basil to pesto.
“Gnocchi first started being served as part of ‘Carnevale’ in Verona in 1531,” explains the experts at Pasta Evangelists. “A defining moment in this legendary celebration is Venerdì Gnocolar, which translates to ‘Gnocchi Friday’ in English. Taking place on the final Friday before Lent, this evening celebrates the simple yet indulgent delights of fresh gnocchi.”
Even in the 21st century, these fluffy dumplings are still going strong. Gnocchi is incredibly simple to make at home, only requiring potatoes, eggs, and flour if you’re not already convinced.
2. Lorette Potatoes
If you’re more of a deep-fried kind of person, Pommes de Terre Lorette, or Lorette potatoes, are our option of choice. These delicious French spuds are mashed, mixed with choux pastry batter, and then piped into sizzling oil to create its unique, soft crisp crust uncovering a cloudy interior. Think second-generation chips.
Appearance-wise, they look like churros, and their fluffiness is perfect as a side dish for a juicy steak. If you have a deep fryer, you can give them a go easily — otherwise, a large pot would do the trick. They’re a great way to make potatoes seem more gourmet to impress friends and family or simply hone your haute cuisine skills.
Deciding which version — dauphinoise, gratin or boulangère — is best is a terrible task, but, for the sake of science, we had to do it. While dauphinoise uses raw potatoes rather than cooked or parboiled, and the gratin is topped with cheese and sometimes béchamel sauce, the boulangère is a slightly healthier, cheeseless alternative. The latter is also topped with onions that get deliciously caramelized in the oven as the dish bakes, ultimately making it superior (in our opinion).
Suppose you’re unfamiliar with this genre of recipes and need a little more elaboration into what it is. In that case, boulangère are thin slices of potatoes parboiled in stock or milk, arranged in layers in a baking dish, and topped with onions, butter and sometimes herbs. The result is a delicious and impressive side, far lighter than its creamy counterparts but still incredibly traditional.
4. Hasselback Potatoes
Don’t get us wrong, we all love a roastie. But you just can’t compete with the hasselback potato. These spuds are sliced almost all the way through multiple times, creating a beautiful potato fan or accordion. This increases the level of crispiness and allows you to insert herbs and spices into the ridges, packing your hasselbacks with flavour.
While we may all know these as Americans, they started in Restaurant Hasselbacken in Sweden. If you’re going to try and make these, you’ll be happy to know that they’re barely more difficult to fashion than a baked potato. However, as BBC Good Food suggests, “using same-sized potatoes will help them cook through evenly,” so consider that when securing your spuds.
To round off our list, we’ve chosen a traditional Jewish recipe that is often served at Hanukkah. The holiday marks the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks who ruled Judea thanks to — among other factors — a little cruse (small vessel) of oil that lasted for eight days, despite the amount only normally being enough for one. According to tradition, Jews must eat oily foods to commemorate this miracle, and therefore common recipes include sufganiyot (a type of jam-filled doughnut) and, you guessed it, latkes.
These are made from coarsely grated potatoes, onions, flour and eggs. Crispy and mouthwatering are reminiscent of hash browns, but in our opinion, you can’t compare the two; latkes are the obvious winners. Savoury potato pancakes in essence — although sweet versions do exist, usually with cheese added into the batter — they are a great delicacy to try (not just on Hanukkah!). Grating the potatoes may take a little time and effort, though, so be conscious of that.