Feed the spud habit with creative preparation

10/28/2002 12:00:00 AM
Jody Shee

(Oct. 28) The world is full of meat-and-potatoes guys. You can slip dainty asparagus tips and patty pan squash onto the plate, but guests expect their comfort food.

With little effort, baked and mashed potatoes go a long way toward satisfying the starch addiction. But look for more creative ways to feed the habit.

EXPLORE VARIETIES, FORMS AND COLORS

Considering potato sweetness levels, David Garrido, executive chef for the two Jeffrey’s restaurants in Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C., says russets have the lowest sugar content. Just above them on the sweet scale are red B-sized spuds, followed by yukon golds and blue potatoes. Sweet potatoes, of course, are the sweetest.

Blue potatoes have more of a root flavor, Garrido says. He likes to cook them in sherry or mash them for a unique color to the popular preparation. “We keep light on the flavoring with buttermilk and parmesan cheese. We also like to grill (blue potatoes). It brings out the blue,” he says. Jeffrey’s also operates Cipollina Café and O’s Campus Café at the University of Texas, also in Austin.

Garrido likes to use yukon gold potatoes for mashed potatoes and potato cakes. “It gives them a bright yellow color and a sweeter taste,” he says.

To serve with venison, he likes to bake a potato casserole featuring sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, beets and yuca root, all cut into chunks and mixed with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.

Something Different restaurant in Indianapolis does with potatoes what the restaurant name suggests. Executive chef Steven Oakley makes potato cylinders, shells, pancakes and puree.

He creates an Idaho russet cannelloni by using a slicing machine that cuts the potato into a long sheet, which he wraps around a lobster tail, scallops or other fish. Then he sears and roasts the creation. Mushrooms also make a great filling, he says.

For another potato shell, Oakley forms long strands of potato like angel hair around a wooden dowel, which creates a cylinder after he deep fries it. He pulls the shell off the dowel after it cools and fills it halfway with potato puree and tops it with oxtail ragu. He pairs this with tuna, he says.

Oakley prefers yukon gold potatoes for potato pancakes because of the color and light creamy texture. For a unique disk-shaped potato pancake, he makes a crepelike batter of potato, egg, milk, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. He pours the batter into ring molds and bakes them. Herbs flavor the pancakes, he says.


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