Small potatoes can be a wonderful addition to your meal, but cooking them can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re new to the kitchen. Fear not! This comprehensive guide is here to help you cook small potatoes with ease. From choosing the right potatoes to seasoning them perfectly, we’ll cover everything you need to know about cooking small potatoes. Whether you’re preparing a hearty meal for your family or hosting a dinner party, this guide will help you impress your guests with perfectly cooked small potatoes.
What are Small Potatoes?
Small potatoes refer to young potatoes that are harvested before they reach their full maturity. These potatoes come in different varieties and sizes, but they are generally smaller in size and have a thin, delicate skin. Small potatoes are often sold in bags or pouches and are perfect for cooking or serving whole. They are also great for roasting, frying, boiling, and mashing.
Types of Small Potatoes
There are several varieties of small potatoes, and each has its unique flavor and texture. Here are some of the most common types of small potatoes:
- Fingerling Potatoes – These small, finger-shaped potatoes have a firm texture and are perfect for roasting or grilling.
- New Potatoes – These are small, round potatoes with a thin skin and a slightly sweet flavor. They are perfect for boiling, steaming, or roasting.
- Pee Wee Potatoes – These small potatoes are usually about the size of a quarter and have a creamy texture. They are great for boiling, mashing, or serving as a side dish.
How to Select Small Potatoes
When buying small potatoes, look for firm, smooth-skinned potatoes free from any soft spots, bruises, or sprouts. The color of the skin should be even without any discoloration, and the potatoes should feel heavy for their size. If possible, try to buy small potatoes that are roughly the same size so that they cook evenly.
Tip: If you are in doubt, smell the potatoes. If they have an earthy, fresh smell, they are likely to be good.
What are the Different Types of Small Potatoes?
Small potatoes are perfect for roasting, boiling, and frying, but did you know that there are different types of small potatoes available? Each type has a unique flavor and texture that make them perfect for specific dishes.
Fingerling potatoes are small and slender, resembling fingers, from where they get their name. They have a firm texture and a nutty, earthy flavor that’s perfect for roasting or grilling. They are available in different colors, including yellow, red, and purple, and their skin is thin, making them perfect for dishes that require a crisp exterior and a toothsome interior.
New potatoes are young potatoes harvested early before their sugars convert to starch. They are small and round and have a thin, delicate skin that’s easy to peel. They have a sweet, buttery flavor and a soft texture that’s perfect for boiling or mashing. They are often used in potato salads or served as a side dish to meat.
Baby Dutch Potatoes
Baby Dutch potatoes are small and oval-shaped, and they have a distinct buttery flavor and a creamy texture that’s perfect for mashing or roasting. They have a slightly yellow skin and a soft, white interior that’s perfect for soaking up flavors. They are often used in stews or served as a side dish to meat.
What are the Health Benefits of Small Potatoes?
Small potatoes are not only delicious but also nutritious, containing high levels of important vitamins and minerals such as potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, which can have numerous health benefits.
One of the primary benefits of small potatoes is their high potassium content. Potassium is an essential mineral that aids in the proper functioning of the muscles and nerves, helps regulate blood pressure, and supports heart health. A single small potato contains roughly 535 milligrams of potassium, which is about 12% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
2. Vitamin C
Another important nutrient found in small potatoes is vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect your cells against damage from free radicals. It also helps promote immune system function and helps your body absorb iron. Small potatoes contain around 12 milligrams of vitamin C per serving, which is about 13% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
Fiber is an essential nutrient that can help promote digestive health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Small potatoes are an excellent source of fiber, with each serving providing roughly 2 grams of fiber. Eating a diet high in fiber has been linked to numerous health benefits, including improved digestion, weight loss, and lower cholesterol levels.
- Eating small potatoes may also help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
How Do You Choose and Store Small Potatoes?
If you’re new to cooking with small potatoes, it’s vital to choose and store them the right way to get the best flavor and texture from your dishes. Here’s what you need to know:
Choosing Small Potatoes
When choosing small potatoes, look for those that are firm and free of cuts or bruises. Avoid potatoes that are sprouting or have a greenish tintâ€”these indicate that they’re past their prime. If you’re buying potatoes in a store, look for those that are pre-packaged or have a sign indicating the variety of potatoes and where they’re fromâ€”these are often fresher than loose potatoes.
Storing Small Potatoes
Proper storage is key to maintaining the freshness and flavor of small potatoes. Keep them in a cool, dark placeâ€”ideally between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. A pantry or cellar is a good choice, or you can store them in a paper or mesh bag in a low-humidity area of your kitchen. Avoid storing potatoes in the fridge or in plastic bagsâ€”this can cause them to rot or go bad quickly. If you notice any soft spots or sprouts on your potatoes, remove them immediately to prevent them from spreading and spoiling your entire batch.
What to Do With Small Potatoes
- Roast them in the oven with olive oil and herbs.
- Toss them in a salad for added texture and flavor.
- Mash them up for creamy, flavorful mashed potatoes.
- Slice them thin and fry them for crispy potato chips.
Cooking Small Potatoes
Small potatoes are incredibly versatile and can be cooked in a variety of ways. When boiling small potatoes, make sure to scrub them well, and leave the skin on, as it helps the potatoes retain their shape and nutrients. Cook them for around 15 minutes or until they’re soft when you pierce them with a fork, then strain them and toss them in butter and herbs. If you want to roast small potatoes, cut them into small pieces and cook them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 25â€“30 minutes. They’re also great grilledâ€”with a little bit of olive oil and salt, grilled potatoes take on a smoky, delicious flavor that pairs well with any summer meal.
What Are Some Delicious Ways to Cook Small Potatoes?
Small potatoes are incredibly versatile and can be cooked in many different ways, from roasting and grilling to boiling and mashing. Try them in dishes like potato salad, roasted potatoes with herbs, or creamy mashed potatoes for a delicious and satisfying meal. Here are five more ways to cook small potatoes:
1. Hasselback Potatoes
Hasselback potatoes are a type of baked potato that’s sliced thinly, leaving the bottom intact. This allows for the flavor of whatever seasoning or topping is added to seep into the potato, making for a flavorful and delicious dish. Try adding butter, garlic, thyme, and Parmesan cheese for a classic flavor, or experiment with other seasonings like rosemary or chili powder.
2. Potato Skins
Small potatoes make perfect bite-sized potato skins. Cut them in half, scoop out the centers, and fill them with cheese, bacon, and green onions for a delicious appetizer or side dish. You can also try using sweet potatoes for a healthier option.
3. Pan-fried Potatoes
If you’re short on time, pan-frying small potatoes is a quick and easy way to enjoy them. Cut them into small rounds and cook them in a skillet with butter or oil until crispy and golden brown. Add chopped herbs like thyme or parsley for extra flavor.
4. Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
Roasting small potatoes with rosemary is a classic and delicious side dish that’s easy to make. Toss small potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary, and bake them in the oven until golden brown and crispy. Serve with roasted chicken or pork for a comforting and satisfying meal.
5. Potato Soup
Small potatoes are perfect for adding to a creamy and delicious potato soup. Peel and boil them until tender, then blend with chicken or vegetable broth, garlic, onions, and cream to make a comforting and hearty soup. Add bacon bits, cheese, or croutons for extra texture and flavor.
What Are Some Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Small Potatoes?
Small potatoes can be a versatile and delicious addition to any meal, but they can also be tricky to cook. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
Overcooking small potatoes can lead to a mushy texture and unappetizing appearance. To avoid this, it’s important to keep a close eye on them and remove them from heat once they are cooked through. Boiling or roasting for 15-20 minutes is usually sufficient.
Because small potatoes have a mild flavor, it’s important to season them well to bring out their natural taste. Don’t be afraid to add plenty of salt, pepper, and herbs to your dish. A simple olive oil and rosemary coating can make them delicious.
3. Crowding the pan
When roasting small potatoes, it’s important to leave enough space between them on the pan so that they can cook evenly and develop a crispy exterior. If they are too close together, they will steam instead of roast and end up with a soft texture.
4. Using the wrong type of potato
Not all potatoes are created equal, and using the wrong type can lead to disappointing results. Small potatoes such as fingerlings or red-skinned potatoes work best for roasting or boiling, while starchy potatoes like russets are better for mashing or baking.
5. Not washing the potatoes
It’s important to wash small potatoes thoroughly before cooking to remove any dirt or debris. Failure to do so could result in an unpleasant grittiness when you bite into them.
6. Neglecting to dry the potatoes
After washing your small potatoes, it’s important to dry them thoroughly before cooking. Excess moisture on the surface of the potatoes can interfere with the cooking process and make them less crispy. Pat them dry with paper towels or leave them to air dry for a few minutes before cooking.
We hope you enjoyed reading this comprehensive guide to cooking small potatoes for beginners. Cooking potatoes of any size can be a fun and easy way to create a variety of delicious meals in your own kitchen. Whether you prefer them pan-fried, roasted, or boiled, small potatoes can be a great addition to any dish, as well as a nutritious source of vitamins and minerals. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to come back for more cooking tips and recipes!
Cooking Small Potatoes: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners
- 2 lbs small potatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Choose small potatoes that are similar in size and shape for even cooking.
- Wash and dry the potatoes, then cut off any blemishes or bruises. Leave the skins on for added nutrition and texture.
- Place the potatoes in a pot of boiling water and cook for 10-12 minutes until they are tender but not falling apart. Drain and let cool.
- Heat a pan with olive oil over medium heat. Add the boiled potatoes and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy on the outside.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the boiled potatoes with olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until crispy and golden brown on the outside.
- Serve the small potatoes hot as a side dish or add them to your favorite salads, stews, or casseroles.