Unearth the flavours of potatoes

MARK DEWOLF mdewolf@herald.ca @withzesttours



SaltWire Network


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There are your star vegetables and fruits and then there are your workhorses. I would place potatoes, and tomatoes (a fruit, I know) into the latter category. With respect to potatoes, most of us are guilty of underappreciating this agricultural gem of Atlantic Canada. Potatoes can be so much more than a side to a burger or a mound beside your holiday turkey. They can be a substantive base to a chowder, the star in a classic soup such as leek and potato or vichyssoise, can take top billing as gnocchi or make super side dishes such as my recipe for Patatas a la Riojana and my decadent baked potato recipes. Basic Gnocchi 4 to 6 servings 3 lb russet potatoes 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour Directions: Place potatoes in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil. Boil until tender. Remove skins. Place peeled potatoes in ricer or food mill. Add two-thirds of flour and turn onto a clean work surface. Knead, adding more flour as needed, to form a soft, elastic, slightly sticky dough. Divide dough into two parts. Roll into long snakelike shapes. Cut into 3/4-inch long pieces. To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, drop gnocchi into water and cook until they float. When finished, toss with sauce and serve. Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce 4 to 6 servings Gnocchi 2 cups tomato sauce* Parmesan, freshly grated, to serve Directions: Prepare gnocchi as seen in basic gnocchi recipe. Toss with warm tomato sauce and serve warm with grated Parmesan. *My recipe for tomato sauce is so simple. Sauté one diced onion, one diced stalk celery and one diced carrot in olive oil. When vegetables are soft, add a splash of milk to help breakdown the onion. When milk is evaporated add a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of plum tomatoes (San Marzano are best), jar of passata pomodoro (strained tomatoes), a couple tablespoons of tomato paste and hefty pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for two to three hours. Pass through a food mill or blend. Patatas a la Riojana 6 servings 3 lbs yellow fleshed potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped 1 tbsp each salt, pepper, smoked paprika Vegetable oil 1 Serrano pepper, seeds removed, minced 6 tbsp olive oil 3 6-inch long pieces of Spanishstyle chorizo sausage, sliced 2 cups spicy tomato sauce Directions: Boil potatoes in salted water for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender. Drain, cool and pat dry. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt, pepper and paprika. Place a deep sided pan over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to cover in bottom. Working in batches fry potatoes until golden brown. Add more oil as needed. Add the olive oil to the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté pepper for 30 seconds. Add the potatoes and chorizo to the pan and sauté until warm. Add the tomato sauce and warm through. Serve warm. Cheesy Hasselback Baked Potatoes 6 servings 6 medium yellow fleshed potatoes 1 stick butter, melted Pinch salt Pinch pepper, freshly cracked 1/2 cup cheddar, grated Chives, chopped, for garnish Directions: Preheat to 400 F. Firmly grasp potatoes by ends. Carefully cut potatoes into thin slices leaving a 1/4-inch at bottom of potato to keep it intact. Place the potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet. Brush the potatoes with melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 55 minutes. Top with grated cheese. Return to oven for five minutes. Garnish with chives. Serve warm. Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream and Horseradish Sauce 6 servings 6 baking potatoes 1 cup sour cream 1/4 cup prepared horseradish 1 lime, juice, zest 2 tbsp chives, finely chopped Salt to taste Pepper to taste Directions: Preheat oven to 400 F. Wrap potatoes in foil. Bake for 60 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. Whisk until smooth and well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice baked potatoes in half and serve accompanied with sour cream and horseradish sauce. Mark Dewolf is currently the creative director of food and drink at the Saltwire Network, director of marketing and communications of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) and pastpresident of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS). He enjoys drinking, eating, writing and talking about wine, beer and food.