Feed the spud habit with creative preparation

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

USE YOUR IMAGINATION

Try your hand at unusual potato applications that will surprise your guests.

Michael Tsonton, executive chef at Courtright’s Restaurant in Willow Springs, Ill., developed several interesting recipes for the Idaho Potato Commission, Boise, including Canadian lobster roasted in Michigan hay with ras el hanout and potato foam and lychee sorbet with candied potato peel.

The foam squirted on top of the lobster makes everything on the plate a backdrop to the potato foam, he says. He cooks the potatoes in salted water and puts them through a potato ricer. Then he mixes them by hand with warm milk and a little potato water with butter, salt and pepper. He puts the mixture into a container that allows him to spray it as foam on top of the dish. For more potato foam pizzazz, you could add lemon grass, fresh tarragon or fruit juice, he says.

To make a dessert out of potatoes, Tsonton made a candied potato peel by thinly slicing potatoes, keeping the peel on, and lightly poaching the slices in sweetened condensed milk. Then he patted the slices dry and brushed them with clarified butter, sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon and placed them between two nonstick mats. He baked them until they were crisp and used them as a garnish to the lychee sorbet. “They taste like sweet potato crisps,” he says.

Kerry Heffernan, executive chef/partner of Eleven Madison Park restaurant in New York, created an Idaho potato speck tart recipe for the commission. After boiling the potatoes, he gently folds them together with rendered bacon, butter and speck (smoked prosciutto), adding rosemary and garlic. After slightly chilling the mixture, he lightly presses it into muffin tins, heats them on the stove and finishes them in the oven. The side dish goes with roasted chicken.

COVER THE BASICS

Even if you don’t do anything exotic with potatoes, you’ll still satisfy many guests with simple baked or mashed potatoes.

For efficiency, consider buying value-added baking potatoes.

Potato Products of Idaho, Rigby, does about 40% of its value-added potato business with foodservice, says Ron Romrell, company president.

The company offers two-, three- and four-count overwrapped trays of washed and sorted baking potatoes; 50-pound cartons of sorted, washed and foil-wrapped potatoes; and boxes of sorted and washed potatoes with no overwrap, he says.

Recently the company began offering tray-packed potatoes — washed and ready to go — that can be microwaved.



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