The humble potato originated in the Andes over 8000 years ago. But it did not arrive in Europe until the 16th Century. Since then, potato cooking has become a daily activity throughout the world.
Nowadays there are many kinds and discoveries have been made that different sorts suit particular ways of cooking them. Round red ones and the new potato are the best ones to boil. They keep their shape better than some of the other kinds. Russets and baking ones are ideal for mashing. If frying or baking select long whites.
If you want to have them mashed, cook them in milk rather than water. Adding garlic to the cooking process will make the taste more interesting. For a lighter mixture, use skimmed milk instead of full fat milk and leave out any butter you had thought of mixing in afterwards. Do not be tempted to mash them too much as they can become too starchy. Herbs, salt and pepper, roasted garlic or grated cheese can be included as you do your final mix.
Roasting them in the oven is simple. Chop them into halves or quarters and toss in olive oil. You will need to turn them to make sure they brown evenly.
If you are intending to fry them cut them and soak for half an hour. Make sure they are dried thoroughly before adding to your pan. Cook and drain them and remove excess fat with a kitchen towel. Frying for a second time will make them crispier.
Baking in skins is a popular method. It will take longer to oven cook, though. You can choose really interesting and satisfying fillings, such as grated cheese, tuna with sweetcorn or coleslaw. They add a splash of color as well.
If you combine cooked potatoes that have already been sliced, together with herbs, sliced onion and butter, you will have created a Lyonnaise recipe. It is a filling dish and adds interest to this humble vegetable. Use the red variety for potato au gratin that has grated cheese for a topping. If you wish to make a simple supper meal a casserole combining diced ones, sour cream, cheese, garlic and cottage cheese is very quick. The ingredients are readily accessible.
New ones can be served hot or cold so cooking too many will not be a waste. Cold potatoes are ideal with a salad. You can toss them in a dressing of olive oil, mustard and lemon juice to flavor them. These easy tips and ideas make potato cooking a pleasure and certainly not a chore!