Britain has a real love affair with the potato. Emma explores ten ways to cook this versatile vegetable, from crisp roasties to creamy dauphinoise.
On average, each person in Britain eats three potatoes every day – but they are so entrenched in the fabric of British food culture that I worry we don’t give them enough applause. From classic roasties, baked potatoes and dauphinoise to chips, crisps and mash, there are no limits to the versatility of the humble spud.
Read on for ten recipes that celebrate potatoes in their finest form...
1. Crispiest ever roast potatoes
Transform a bag of Maris Pipers into something special with a fluffy middle and golden crisp exterior. Using a combination of hot rapeseed oil and butter is the key to this method, allowing the spuds to crisp up nicely. Cooking your potatoes with their peelings plus a hint of lemon thyme, garlic and sea salt also intensifies the flavour. Try this recipe and soggy roasties will be a thing of the past!
2. Baked potato
I thought it was impossible to improve on a simple baked potato. I was wrong. Steam the spud for 20 minutes to infuse with moisture, then bake for 40 minutes in a hot oven to get the perfect combo of fluffy inside and extra crisp outside.
3. Classic potato salad
Picnics and barbecues would not be the same without a bowl of creamy potato salad on the side. This classic recipe pairs boiled new potatoes with shallots, capers and cornichons for a tangy kick. Bind the mixture together with mayo and stir in chopped parsley for a burst of freshness. If you are catering for kids, this simple salad can easily be adapted by leaving out the stronger flavours such as capers and cornichons.
Everyone has their own favourite version of this dish so why not use our classic potato salad recipe as the perfect starting base to experiment?
Find more perfect picnic accompaniments in our potato salad recipe collection.
4. Fondant potatoes
These potatoes may sound fancy but there's no need to whip out your chef whites quite yet! Recreate this traditional French dish with crisp, crunchy edges and a soft, silky middle for an elegant dinner party side or Sunday lunch accompaniment. Butter is essential here to add richness whilst rosemary and thyme provide a subtle herby flavour whilst simmering with the potatoes.
Impress your family or friends with our easy fondant potatoes recipe.
5. Mashed potato
I’m not going to lie, I have found it hard to do full justice to this most magnificent of side dishes. However, everything improved once I got my head around this hack: after you’ve boiled the potatoes, drain them, return to the pan and cover with a cloth for 10 minutes. This dries them out, so that when you add butter they absorb it and taste buttery, rather than absorbing their cooking water and tasting watery. Tiny step – big difference.
Master this technique with our handy video on how to make mashed potatoes.
Discover more marvellous ways with mashed potatoes.
Easier than you think. Grate a potato, squeeze out all the moisture, add rosemary, salt and pepper, then oven bake. Once you’ve flipped it, top with grated Gruyère or a fried egg. It’s the new pizza.
7. Crisp sandwich
As if crisps aren’t wonderful enough, it turns out they’re even better between bread. We've seen this trend emerging across the UK restaurant and café scene so it seems only right to replicate it in the comfort of a home kitchen. To make the crisps, slice some medium potatoes very thinly, coat with sea salt, vinegar and olive oil, then bake! The crunchiness of these crisps balances perfectly with soft bread and a dollop of tangy tomato ketchup.
Try Emma Freud's salt & vinegar crisp recipe in your own crunchy sandwich.
8. Boiled, squashed and then roasted
My favourite new method, this is a real game changer: Boil small potatoes in their skins, then drain and cover with a cloth for a few minutes. Put each potato into a clean tea towel and squash so it slightly bursts, then place on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, scatter over grated garlic and chopped rosemary, and roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes until golden and a bit crisp: the joy of a boiled spud, the texture of smashed potatoes and the crunch – but not the fat – of a roastie.
Are you a fan of roasties? Find more variations on this super side in our roast potato recipe collection.
9. Dauphinoise potatoes
We’ve arrived at nirvana – layered potato slices with lots of cream, garlic and melted Gruyère – to be served on feast days on my desert island. Classic dauphinoise tips: 1) If your life is too short to peel potatoes, try potato peeler gloves, which have rough, abrasive palms. You peel by rubbing, though be warned – they look like murder weapons. 2) Don’t demean dauphinoise by calling it a ‘side’ – it’s the main event. A glass of wine is the side dish. 3) Wear elasticated trousers when you eat them, for obvious reasons.
10. Oven chips
Some foods are at their peak only when cooked brilliantly using the most expensive ingredients. The potato is not in this category. You can achieve perfectly crispy, golden chips using a home oven, which also takes away the effort of frying. We consider Maris Piper to be the best potatoes, by far, for chips, with Désirée and King Edwards your next best options.
Simply simmer your potato batons in salted water for a few mintues before draining, cooling, then baking in the oven with oil. Tossing the chips in a coating of flour, baking powder and cayenne pepper provides a nice crunchy outside with a touch of heat.
Why not go one step further and make these into chip butties? The ultimate indulgence of carb-on-carb plus butter-on-fat make these so wrong they’re perfect. Four ingredients: floury white bap, butter, ketchup and thick-cut chips. Meddle with this formula at your peril.
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A guide to British potatoes
What are your favourite ways to cook potatoes? Leave a comment below...