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The 10 Best Potato Dishes

Potatoes are a brilliant ingredient. They are just so versatile. There’s so much you can do with them. They’re a vegetable that’s cheap to buy and they really fill you up. If you’re cooking on a budget, you really need to stock up on potatoes. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut with the way we prepare our potatoes, so for some inspiration on new ways to cook potatoes, or perhaps a new twist on an old favorite, read on…

Potato Dish
1 Potato Chips No list of the top things to do with a potato would be complete without mentioning chips! Or crisps as they are called in some countries. Thinly sliced potato that is traditionally deep fried. These days you’ll find a lot of baked chips on the market too as they are healthier. Lower in fat and lower in calories. Chips come in a wide range of different flavors, there’s something to suit everyone. From the classic flavors such as cheese and onion, salt and vinegar, beef and prawn cocktail to more exotic flavors for those looking for something a little different. These day there are all types of new flavors to try such as chicken tikka masala, sweet chilli and BBQ rib.

Chips are actually very easy to make, and they cost so little. Why buy chips from the store when you can make your own? All you need to do is finely slice a potato, rinse the slices and drain them to remove the excess starch, then drop them in small batches into a deep fat frying set to 185 degrees until they turn golden brown. Then put them on some kitchen roll to soak up the excess fat and they’re ready to eat. So simple!
2 Fries Fries go with everything don’t they? Sometimes also called chips, fries are a great snack on their own, or as an accompaniment to many meals such as burgers or steak. They’re easy and fast to prepare, so it’s no wonder they appear on the menu of just about every fast food place in the country. Topped with your own choice of condiments and sauces, you can personalize your fries. Do you like them with tomato ketchup or mayonnaise? Perhaps you like lots of salt and vinegar on your fries? For the ultimate fries, cook a batch of fries, pour over some barbecue sauce, top with a generous helping of grated cheese, then simply pop in the microwave for a minute for it all to melt. The perfect snack while watching TV! Fries are not well known for their health giving properties, but you can make a healthier version if you use sweet potatoes instead of standard potatoes. You’ll also find sweet potato fries in many stores these days. In fact there are many sweet potato dishes you can make if you’d like to lower the calorie content in your potato dishes for dinner.
3 Mashed Potato Mashed potato is a wonderful comfort food. If you’re feeling a little low, or under the weather, a bowl of hot mashed potato works wonders. If you’re short on time, you can even get instant mashed potato. Just add hot water, stir, and you’re ready to go! It really is one of the most easy potato dishes. Mashed potato is beautiful just with a little butter or milk and a pinch of salt and pepper, but if you’re looking for a different take on your usual mashed potato then you can get inventive and stir in some extra items. Check out your fridge and cupboards. Many things go really well with mashed potato. If you’ve got a little ham or bacon left over, cut this up and add it to your mash. For a vegetarian potato dish or a vegan potato dish, omit the butter and add cooked chopped cabbage and onion. It’s also delicious with cheese stirred into it. This isn’t one of the most healthy potato side dishes, but it’s perfect for a decadent treat.
4 Roast potato Roast potatoes, the perfect accompaniment to any roast dinner, in fact, a roast dinner just isn’t complete without them! Of course they go with plenty of other meals too. If you make them small, they’re also great in potato dishes for breakfast!

Want to know the secret of perfect roast potatoes, roast potatoes that are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside? Of course you do, so read on… The first step is to peel your potatoes and cut them up into pieces of the same size. Boil them for two minutes and here comes the trick. Drain them, then put them in a pan or box and give them a good shake. This breaks up the edges, increasing the surface area, and so allowing more fat to soak into the potatoes when you roast them, making them super crispy. Heat some fat in a roasting dish, duck or goose fat works really well for roast potatoes. Carefully place your potatoes in the hot fat and drizzle the hot fat over them. Roast in the oven at 200C (180C fan) until golden brown and crisp. This should take about an hour.
5 Potato pancakes If you’ve got any left over mashed potato, don’t throw it away, use it to make one the most perfect potato recipes for breakfast… potato pancakes! They also work well as an appetiser. They’re quick and easy to make and you can add extra ingredients to give them a new twist. To make them you just need a couple of cups of mashed potato. It doesn’t matter if you have a little more or less, they’ll still turn out yummy! Mix your mash with an egg, or two if your eggs are small or you have a larger amount of mashed potato. Stir in a quarter cup of flour and a little salt and pepper to taste. Add a little oil to a skillet and get it nice and hot. Then pour about a quarter of a cup of the mixture onto the skillet and cook until it is golden brown, turning occasionally. You can add onions, garlic, chives and even cheese to the mixture for a change. They are tasty on the side of a breakfast with bacon and egg, as a side dish with a main meal, perhaps steak, or just on their own as a lunch dish or an appetiser. If you’re eating them on their own, then adding some sour cream or apple sauce will add some interest to the dish.
6 Potato wedges If you’re feeling particularly hungry, potato wedges are a great alternative to fries. They’re one of the most healthy potato side dishes because they are oven baked and you cook them with the skin on, and that’s where all the nutrients are! They’re a great nourishing snack for a cold winter day and work well with dips. You can buy frozen potato wedges, but they are very easy to make yourself. Some people par-boil the potatoes first, but you really don’t need to. If you like quick and simple recipes, then here’s the fastest way to make delectable wedges. Simple cut your potatoes into wedges. Put them on a baking tray, drizzle them with olive oil and put them in the oven at 180 C for about 45 minutes. How simple is that? You can experiment by sprinkling them with herbs or spices. Rosemary works well, especially if you’re serving them with a lamb dish, or how about chilli powder to give your potato wedges an extra kick?
7 Hash Browns If you’re looking for potato dishes for breakfast then you certainly can’t overlook hash browns! They really are an American staple and it’s no wonder, they are so delicious! Made from diced or shredded potato and pan fried, hash browns are ideal for breakfast, but there’s no reason why you can’t eat them with any meal at any time of the day! The word ‘hash’ comes from the French word for hack or chop ‘hacher’. The first recorded mention of hash browns was back in 1888 when food author Maria Parloa wrote about them.

To make your own hash browns, shred potato and put the shreds into cold water to remove the starch. Drain and rinse again. Put out onto paper towels and allow to drain, squeezing out any excess moisture. Then heat some clarified butter in a pan and stir in the shredded potato. Leave on the heat for about five minutes until the potato becomes brown and crispy on top.
8 Baked potato If you’re looking for something for lunch that’s going to be filling but not too fatty or full of calories then baked potato dishes are certainly a good choice. There are so many ways to serve a baked potato, it’s a dish you just can’t get fed up of. For a healthy option you can fill it with roast peppers, or tuna. If you want a decadent fulfilling treat then how about cheese and baked beans? You could also have chilli to warm you up, or coleslaw for a refreshing addition.

The only problem with baked potatoes is that they take a long a time to cook in the oven. You can cook them in the microwave, they’ll be ready in just a few minutes, but they just don’t crisp up as nicely. The trick is to compromise. Cook them through in the microwave, then put them in a pre-heated oven to crisp up. It really does cut down the cooking time if you’re can’t be bothered to wait around!
9 Potato salad Many potato dishes are well suited to winter, but when it comes to summer dishes, you can’t beat potato salad. Whether it’s to take on a picnic, or to serve up at a BBQ, potato salad is just delicious. It’s fun to experiment with potato salad. When you’ve made a batch of boiled potato, you can cut them into small pieces and divide them into batches, making your salad dressing different for each one. Honey and mustard mayonnaise is a great dressing for potato salad. Add some chicken pieces and you’ve got a really substantial potato salad. A Marie Rose sauce is easy to make yourself, and works surprisingly well with potato too.
10 Potato gratin Potato gratin is a meal in itself, and it’s also a fabulous potato side dish. It’s usually pretty high in calories, so it’s not one to eat every night, but it does make a wonderful treat. You can find lower calorie versions though if you’d like to eat this dish more regularly. Looking for a quick and easy potato gratin recipe? Then here you go! Peel four medium sized potatoes and cut them into slices. Place a layer of the slices across the bottom of a buttered casserole dish then add a layer of sliced onions. Repeat with layers of potato and onion until you’ve used up all the potato. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper to your liking. Now get a pan, and melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Stir in 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour then whisk for a minute. Stir in 2 cups of milk and keep stirring until it achieves a thick consistency. Next stir in a cup of cheese until it has melted. Pour this mixture over your potatoes and bake at 200C for an hour and a half until crisp and golden on top.

Potatoes are an incredibly popular food. They’re eaten nearly all over the world. They’re easy to grow, even in colder climates and they’re both tasty and fulfilling.

The history of potatoes

The first people to grow potatoes were the Incas. They first cultivated potatoes in Peru around 8000BC! So they’ve certainly been around a long time! It wasn’t until 1536 when the joy of potatoes reached Europe. When Spanish Conquistadors invaded Peru, they brought potatoes back to Spain and then Sir Walter Raleigh brought the potato over to England and Ireland in 1589. Due to the fact that potatoes are incredibly easy to grow, farmers began favouring them over other crops that weren’t as reliable. The popularity of the potato spread and it became a stable food source for many people in many countries.

Potato blight and the Irish potato famine

Then something bad happened in the world of potatoes. A huge spate of potato blight infected the crops in the 1840s. It spread across Europe and potato crops were mostly lost. This hit Ireland very hard as this was a poor country and most people depended on potatoes for survival. Without the potatoes, many people starved. In fact, around a million Irish died of either starvation, or disease due to malnutrition. It is due to this potato famine that there are so many people of Irish heritage in the US and Canada as more than a million people left Ireland to travel across the Atlantic to these countries.

French Fries – an American staple

They may be called French, but Americans sure do love their French fries! It is thought that French fries were introduced to the US by accident! The story goes, that President Thomas Jefferson was hosting The king of France, Louis Phillipe, and his chef recooked some fried potatoes by putting them in hot oil. The chef hoped they would simply be reheated, but instead they went puffy. The king adored them!

Then later in 1853, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, a railway magnate was dining out in Saratoga Springs, NY. He sent back his plate of potatoes saying they were not thinly sliced enough. The chef, George Crum, took offense to this, so just to be annoying, he sliced them as thin as he possibly could and fried them in hot oil. He then served them up with salt. However, the Commodore actually loved these skinny fries he called ‘Saratoga Crunch Chips’, and so the popularity of French fries rapidly grew from them on, to become one of the most popular foods in many countries of the world.

The nutritional value of potatoes

There are so many types of potato dishes, and how you cook them will affect their nutritional value, but overall, potatoes are a good, healthy choice. Perhaps more healthy than you might expect. For instance, they contain more vitamin C than sweet potatoes, which we usually think of as being the healthier option. One potato gives you around 110 calories, which is pretty good considering how filling potatoes are. When you eat a potato, you’re also getting around 10% of your daily requirements of vitamin B6. This is an important vitamin that aids in metabolism and helps in the production of red blood cells. They’re also high in iron, and very high in potassium. Always thought that bananas were the best source of potassium? Well actually, potatoes are the best source of potassium there is! Many of us simply don’t get enough potassium in our diet, and it’s so vital for the correct functioning of our bodies, from muscle and nerve function, to lowering blood pressure, it’s certainly very important.

Packed full of fiber

Potatoes are also a great source of dietary fiber. Fiber can be beneficial for weight loss, so if you’re looking to lose weight, contrary to what you might think, potatoes might actually be beneficial and not the enemy of the dieter. One medium potato eaten with the skin on gives you around 8% of your daily fiber requirements.

Different potatoes for different potato dishes

While you can make pretty much any potato dish from any potato without ruining your meal, there are certain types of potato that suit particular types of potato dishes best. Let’s take a look at some common types of potato and their uses…

White potatoes

White potatoes are great all round, versatile potatoes. If you want to buy one type of potato to use for everything, for a wide range of different types of potato dishes, then go for a bag of white potatoes. The consistency of white potatoes is quite dense, which means they hold their shape well. This enables you to boil them, without them falling apart. So they’re good for plain boiled potatoes, for roast potatoes, potato gratin and for potato salads. They are also slightly creamy, so they mash well too, and with some white potatoes, you’ll find the skin on them is so thin, you won’t even have to peel them before you mash you. Now that’s time saving!

Red potatoes

Red potatoes have a waxier skin that is a rich red color. This vibrant color makes it ideal for a potato salad if you want to really impress. They are good for adding into a stew as they don’t turn mushy too easily. You can mash red potatoes, just make sure you cook them a little longer than you might white potatoes to ensure your potatoes are fully cooked through or you’ll end up with lumpy mash!

Yellow potatoes

Yellow potatoes are great for grilling. They have a velvety texture and are slightly sweet. They’re also very buttery and work well as mashed potato. They’re lovely boiled and smashed, served up with a good dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with chives.

Russet potatoes

The russet is the perfect baking potato. They’re usually quite large in size, just what you need for a filling baked potato. They are dry and have a floury texture. They have a thick skin, so when they’ve been in the oven, they’ll come of crispy yet chewy, just perfect! They have a slightly earthy taste but nothing that would overpower your baked potato fillings.

Purple potatoes

You don’t often see purple potatoes in the stores, perhaps people get put off by their purple coloring. The purple color is not just limited to the skin, the flesh of the potato is purple too. While purple mashed potato might not be to everyone’s taste, they do look good in a salad, especially if you pick a rainbow of other vegetables too. These potatoes are high in starch and have a floury texture. They have a rather nutty flavor to them and work well as roast potatoes.

Fingerling potatoes

Fingerling potatoes are so named because they are roughly the size and shape of a finger. They come in a variety of colors, from purple, and red to orange and yellow. There may also be other colors running through the flesh in streaks. This medley of color makes them a great choice if you’re out to impressive, perhaps at a dinner party. They’re lovely roasted in small pieces and served up as a side dish, and they make a stunning potato salad too.

Historical uses of potatoes

Of course we all know that potatoes are a delicious food source, but potatoes have been used for all sorts of weird and wonderful purposes during history. Let’s take a look at some of the other uses for potatoes…

It was once believed that potatoes had some amazing healing properties. You could cure toothache by putting a piece of potato in your pocket and walking around with it kept there. Carrying a potato was also thought to help keep rheumatism at bay. Got a sore throat? No problem, you could just put a slice of baked potato in a sock, and tie it around your neck. So stylish eh? Applying slices of potato to broken bones was thought to help with the healing process. The water you cooked the potatoes in would not be thrown away, as that too was believed to have some amazing healing properties. It could get rid of spots if you washed your face in it, and it could also ease aches if applied to the hurting area. Finally, grated potato was thought to be the perfect treatment for both frostbite and sunburn. Do these remedies actually work? Well they’re not popular these days, but who knows, perhaps you can try them out? You might be rediscovering a remedy that has long been lost to time!

Grow your own

Potatoes are easy to cook, they’re good for you, and they’re delicious. Did you know that potatoes are also very easy to grow? You don’t need loads of space, you can grow potatoes in large tubs or sacks on even a small patio or balcony. There’s something so exciting about digging up your potatoes and seeing what treasure you’re going to unearth! Some varieties of potato even have rather attractive flowers, so they can be a real benefit to the garden while you’re waiting for harvest time. While potatoes are cheap to buy in the store, there’s nothing like eating food you’ve grown in your own garden. Kids will love to get involved, and if you get them helping to grow vegetables, you may also be able to persuade fussy eaters to try some if they’ve grown them themselves!