Familiar potatoes are a go-to comfort food, but oversized bakers, cute coin-sized red potatoes, and creamy yellow Yukon Golds are just the start of their versatility. Chefs and farmers are experimenting with new colored potatoes, as well as classic or heritage varieties, that hark back to the potato’s Andean beginnings and are bred more for “potato-y” taste than just for keeping qualities.
Potato size, shape, and color all are dictated by the variety of the potato. The novelty colors are the result of phytochemicals that make them beneficially high in antioxidants. So the novelty also is healthy!
In addition, different varieties have different cooking properties. Some can bake up moist, or floury and dry; some mash creamily or stay intact when boiled for potato salads or stews. “New potato” is sometimes used to describe all small, waxy potatoes but, technically, it refers just to immature potatoes harvested in the spring and early summer.
Red, white, and blue potato salads, purple fries, or lavender mashed potatoes are deliciously novel and visually stunning. No special treatment is required, though; simply steam or simmer in broth and then glaze with butter to preserve their color and taste.
Store all potatoes in a cool, dark, dry, well-ventilated place. Don’t refrigerate them—doing so converts some of the potatoes’ starch to sugar. And don’t expose them to direct sunlight, which turns them greenish and makes them bitter.
|POTATO: Purple Majesty
ABOUT: Deep purple flesh; satiny purple skin. High in anthocyanidins, the same antioxidants found in blueberries. The Purple Majesty is a newly developed variety, a cross between a White-Fleshed Chipper and an All Blue Potato. It’s medium-sized with a buttery flavor and a creamy texture.
WHERE TO TRY: Ossining and Rye Community Markets via Taliaferro Farms, Tivoli, New York. “This new variety holds together well in soups and stews,” says farmer Peter Taliaferro. “They also make great fries or chips.”
|POTATO: Adirondack Red
And adirondack Blue
ABOUT: Rich in antioxidants, they retain their remarkable color, mash easily, and steal the show. They’re the source of blue potato chips.
WHERE TO TRY: Tavern Restaurant at the Highlands Country Club (955 Rte 9D, Garrison 845-424-3254; highlandscountryclub.net/tavern). “It’s pretty incredible to have an earthy, rich potato that holds its color during the cooking process,” Executive Chef Eric Gabrynowicz says. “I use them simply by cutting them into a large dice and glazing them in butter and chicken stock. From there, I usually toss them with another vegetable and a green—for example, spring radishes and lamb’s quarters.”
ABOUT: Classic “Irish” potatoes: golden-skinned, golden-fleshed potatoes with a creamy, smooth texture and exceptionally rich flavor.
WHERE TO TRY: Order from the
virtual Hudson Valley farmers’ market
mypersonalfarmers.com; (914) 293-0701. “I never thought I would get excited by potato varieties,” says mypersonalfarmers.com co-owner Maryanne Hendrick of Cortlandt Manor, “but these Carolas from Sheldon Farms of Salem, New York, are so spectacularly fresh, earthy, and creamy.”
POTATO: Purple Peruvian
|POTATO: Rose Finn Apple
ABOUT: Elongated fingerling potatoes with a red-blush skin, deep yellow flesh, creamy texture, and earthy taste. Best eaten baked or steamed.
WHERE TO TRY: Ossining and Rye Community Markets via Taliaferro Farms.