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Simple Meals From Potatoes
Take Care with boiling water
This hub shows you how to boil potatoes. This needs boiling water. Please be very careful when using boiling water.
Fresh New Potatoes
Simple cooking with potatoes
In the Northern Hemisphere, March, April and May are the months when new potatoes will start being imported from warmer areas of the world, such as Cyprus, Malta and Spain. So maybe a reminder of how to cook these delicious vegetables might be useful. Sometimes, what seems easy to others can be very hard for someone who has never done it before or when you don't have much time in your life. We've all been there but sometimes we can't admit to ourselves, or others that we don't know where to start. Many people would like to be able to produce a home-cooked meal for themselves or their family but often, they just don't know where to begin and then, it just seems simpler to buy a carry out or a prepared meal, even though that costs a great deal more.
There's a saying, "Well begun is half done" and simple cooking starts with simple ingredients. For many people, in many parts of the world, the potato is the easiest, cheapest food that will fill hungry tummies. It's also a simple food to cook and extremely versatile. It can be boiled, roasted, chipped, grated, baked, mashed, skin on, skin off - there's almost no end to the different ways you can cook a potato or to the ways you can add it to other foods - soup, salad, hot foods, cold foods, etc.
And if you want to learn how to create a home-cooked meal, a potato can form a major part of a meal all by itself. Even if you don't want to make it a whole meal, just making a start by producing one item that is home prepared and cooked makes a great way to begin preparing your own complete fully home-cooked meals. After all, you don't have to create a FULL meal the very first time you start out, you can produce just one cooked, home-produced item, to go with a ready-meal or other item, to see how it goes without stressing out over preparation and cooking all coming together, especially if you are trying to look after small children at the same time.
New Potatoes - easy to prepare
Potatoes really come in two forms - new potatoes and old potatoes. New potatoes are the early crops of the year, the first potatoes formed after the plants' flowers have withered. They grow underground and are called potato tubers. New potatoes are fantastic for boiling to provide a warm, filling, nutritious dish. Many people love a dish just made of boiled new potatoes as a meal. Old potatoes are a later crop. The tubers allowed to grow for longer, so they are sold later in the year.
Some new potatoes are VERY small and may be sold in shops as "baby potatoes", quite often at an inflated price! They are still "new potatoes" and can be cooked exactly the same way. My late mother in law referred to these tiny potatoes as "marlies" - marbles - they were not valued when she was young, as they were not big enough to feed anyone.
On the other hand, my late mother loved the "baby" potatoes, as she had only a very small appetite and these suited her needs.
How to boil a potato
How to boil new potatoes
You will need 1, 2, 3, or 4 new potatoes for each person, depending on the size of the potatoes and the size (and appetite) of the person. Children might only eat one potato, while adults might eat 3 or 4.
Put the chosen number of new potatoes into a bowl and run water over them, to clean them. New potatoes should be quite easy to clean, depending on the soil they were grown in. If there is mud or clay sticking to them, use a nail brush or plastic pot scourer to rub any dirt off. You do NOT need to peel the potatoes, leave the skin on. In new potatoes, the skin is very thin, almost papery plus all the important nutrients in the potato are just beneath the skin, so peeling it off removes some of the nutritional value of the potato. Check the skin for any small bad bits and just cut these out.
Make the potato pieces about the same size
If the potatoes are large, you may wish to cut them into smaller pieces to make it quicker for them to cook. Make sure all the pieces are about the same size, or they will cook at different times and some will be ready, when others are still hard.
If you are preparing the potatoes ahead of when you need to cook them, then store them under cold water for a couple of hours. Don't prepare them too far ahead of your cooking time. When you are ready to cook them, put the prepared potatoes in a saucepan and pour boiling water over them, until the water is just above the tops of the potatoes, so they are completely submerged. Bring the water back to the boil, then turn down the heat, so the potatoes are just simmering. (The water is just below boiling point.)
Potatoes will take ABOUT 20 minutes to cook, depending on size. The potatoes in the pot took about 25 minutes but you need to start testing them, in order to see if they are ready.
Testing to see if the potatoes are ready
Start testing the potatoes to see if they are ready. I use a fork but you could use a knife. I try to use one with thin tines (prongs). Just push the fork gently into one of the potatoes. If the fork does not go in easily, then the potatoes are NOT ready.
Potatoes are ready
When the fork goes into the potato easily, then they are ready. Don't let them cook any longer, or they will begin to break up. Now it's time to drain off the water from the saucepan. PLEASE BE CAREFUL. This is boiling water! You can serve the potatoes immediately if you want but in Ireland, many people dry off the potatoes by putting the saucepan back onto the stove for a few minutes on a very low heat. I tend to leave just a very little water in the bottom of the saucepan when I put it back on the heat, just so I don't burn the pan (and the potatoes)!
Just let the pan sit on a very low, gentle heat for a couple of minutes. Leave the lid slightly open, to allow the steam to escape.
Now it's time to serve them out for eating!
You can eat these potatoes just as they are. Some people like to add butter and a little salt. New potatoes don't really need anything else, they are lovely just the way they are.
If you have left over new potatoes, you can use them up the next day. You can cut them into slices and fry in a little hot oil, then serve with vinegar and a fried egg for lunch. Or you can cut them into small pieces and toss in salad cream or mayonnaise for a quick potato salad.