How to Cook Potatoes the Fast and Easy Way
Potatoes are Hard to Cook
When I first began learning to cook, I tackled the most common foods in my diet – Hamburger, Beans, Soup, Corn and of course Potatoes. I was trying to find an alternative to the bag of chips or the frozen French fries. Chips are high in fat & sodium and frozen potatoes lose all their mineral value. What amazed me the most was looking at the nutritional value of your basic potato. The standard run of the mill potato is wealth of nutrients. (No fat & sodium, high in fiber and vitamin C & iron - see below)
The problem was that all my attempts to cook potatoes came out wrong. My hash browns were soggy and under cooked, my mashed potatoes were lumpy, my homemade french fries were never crisp or were burnt. It was very frustrating and I quickly reverted back to cooking frozen potatoes. Why not…the frozen potatoes were easy to make and rarely failed. And they were healthier than a bag of chips.
A Potato Potluck Challenge
I had all but given up trying to master the potato when I was asked to create a potato dish for a potluck dinner. I have never been a person to back down from a challenge so I began to experiment. I wanted to create something that would amaze my friends. And the first trick I discovered was baby Yukon Gold potatoes. The smaller potatoes are more expensive but they are easier to cook and most importantly for me, they have less of a chance for failure. I went through three bags of potatoes before I settled upon my recipe of choice – Lemon Garlic Roasted potatoes.
My friends were amazed by the perfectly browned potatoes, the balance of flavors and especially the juices in the bottom of the baking pan. Several people were seen dipping bread in the juices afterwards. It was one of the cleanest pans I have ever seen at a potluck dinner. Fresh from potluck success, I tackled a few other of my “potato demons”. I made a decent batch of mashed potatoes, I grilled some delicious potato wedges, and my cheesy potatoes were a mild success. I even followed a recipe for a dish called “Potato Ya-Ya”.
Wake Up to Reality
With all my recent found success, I decided to try hash browns. After 3 hours in the kitchen one Saturday morning, I gave up. For the life of me, I could not create a decent helping of hash browns. Breakfast is one of my favorite meals and I love a nice crispy helping of hash browns along with my eggs and sausage. What was different? Why could small diners and “slop houses” deliver such tasty hash browns? At least there was always the bag of frozen hash browns.
The One Dollar Breakfast Tool
I cannot say why I bought the tool originally but the dicer was only $1 and I thought someday I will use it. At first, I tried the dicer with tomatoes. (Failure) Then, I tried apples. (More Failure) I cleaned the dicer and threw it in my kitchen utensil drawer. After collecting dust for several months, I decided to try the dicer with potatoes. Light bulbs went off, fireworks exploded, marching bands came through the kitchen. I had discovered how to cook perfect potatoes for breakfast. No matter whether I baked them, grilled them or fried them, the diced potatoes came out perfect. I seasoned them with hot sauce, with oil & vinegar and even wine. Every combination I tried seem to produce delicious potatoes. I would dice up large bags of potatoes and freeze them. I had created my very own bag of frozen potatoes but with no added salt, no added fat and all the nutrients still there. What could be better?
A Steamy Twist to the Story – Fast and Easy Potatoes
The diced potatoes are certainly a nice addition to my cooking education. However, they still require a lot of attention to cook correctly. Fortunately, I tried cooking them in a steamer one day and discovered another fantastic truth. I could cook diced potatoes in less than 10 minutes without any effort. Just throw them in the steamer, turn it on high and ten minutes later you have delicious potatoes. The more I experimented with different spices and flavorings, the more I realized I had perfected a 10 minute recipe for cooking potatoes. It gets even better…
A Complete Healthy Side Dish
Simply by timing the addition of different vegetables, you can create a healthy side dish for any meal. Start with steaming the potatoes for 4 minutes. Throw in some chopped onions and garlic and steam for another two minutes. Add some green or yellow peppers and steam for three more minutes. Finally, add some fresh cut tomato chunks for the last minute. In ten minutes, you have created a low cost, healthy side dish. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I am looking to replace mashed potatoes with this dish. I know I will get some grief but all I can say is “No fat, no salt, high in vitamin B & C and rich in fiber”. Could it get any better?
What is your favorite potato dish?
From Side Dish to Complete Meal
If you are a vegetarian, what I described above is a complete meal. However, you could add some meat to the recipe and serve it as a complete meal. Usually, pre-cooked meats like smoked sausage work the best. Or pre-cook you own meat and add the meat later in the 10 minute cycle. Perhaps you will add some cheese towards the end. At this point, you are only limited by your imagination and the dietary habits of your guests.
A Word of Cooking Caution: Less is More when it comes to taste.
Recap of 10 minute potatoes
- Buy Yukon Gold or Redskins
- Use a dicer to create small potato cubes
- Freeze a few of bags of diced potatoes
- Use a steamer to cook the potatoes
- Add Veggies to make a healthy side dish