Friday, 4 November 2011

300 Best Potato Recipes: A Complete Cook's Guide

300 Best Potato Recipes
A Complete Cook's Guide
by Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh

Paperback, 448 pages

You say "potayto", I say.. well, I also say potato. Frankly I would look at anyone who said "potahto" a little funny.

But that's okay. Potatoes are fun by nature, no matter what Dan Quayle says. (Wait, am I giving away my age? Never mind.)

And Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh has come out with a whole book dedicated to the humble spud. (Did you know there are 4000 edible varieties? Nope, neither did I. Wow.)

Spuds are infinitely versatile, contain no fat, cholesterol or salt, and are deliciously satisfying. Also, they are great budget food. Potatoes don't cost much and they go a long way.

300 Best Potato Recipes will have you thinking outside the box bag, with delicious recipes for any time of day.

Chapters include:
* The Spud from All Angles * A World of Potatoes * Top Twenty Classics * A Bowl of Soup * Salads * Appetizers * Snacks, Small Plates & Light Meals * Sensational Spuds on the Side * Main Courses with Meat, Poultry, Fish and Seafood * Vegetarian Mains to Satisfy * Breads, Biscuits, Scones, Griddle Cakes & More * Desserts & Confections *

The book even includes recipes for sweet potatoes - which are not technically in the same family, but are too delicious to leave out!

This week I lugged home a 10lb bag of russets out of pure potato excitement and we whipped up The Nacho Wedge (Seriously! Why have I not thought of this before? Brilliant!) and the Beef & Wild Mushroom in Stout with Champ - deliciously warming and soothing right down to your toes.

Try them this weekend!

The Nacho Wedge
Makes 6 to 8 servings

I'm here to tell you to forget corn chips when making nachos. Use much healthier crisp, oven-roasted potato wedges and top with all the usual nacho suspects - chiles, beans, cheese, olives, green onions, diced tomato. This is a great dish to serve at your next big televised game day. Add salsa, guacamole and perhaps even a dollop of sour cream, just to round things off.

•    Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C)

6    large floury potatoes, scrubbed     6
1⁄4 cup    olive oil    60 mL
2 tsp    sweet paprika    10 mL
1⁄2 tsp    garlic salt    2 mL
1⁄2 tsp    dried oregano    2 mL
1⁄4 tsp    cayenne pepper    1 mL
    Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups    shredded Monterey Jack cheese    500 mL
1⁄2 cup    cooked black beans, drained and rinsed    125 mL
3    tomatoes, diced    3
3    green onions, chopped    3
1⁄2 cup    sliced black olives    125 mL
1    jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced, or 1⁄4 cup    1
    (60 mL) canned sliced jalapeño peppers

1.    Halve potatoes lengthwise, then cut into thick wedges of uniform thickness. Transfer to a bowl. Add oil, paprika, garlic salt, oregano, cayenne and freshly ground pepper to taste and toss until potatoes are well coated.
2.    Transfer potatoes to baking sheets, lining them up nicely (do not let them touch). Bake in preheated oven, turning once or twice, for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
3.    Top potatoes with half the cheese, then beans, tomatoes, green onions, olives and remaining cheese. Return to oven and bake for about 5 minutes or until cheese has melted (broil if necessary). Serve immediately (see Tips, left).

Tips
If you have a favorite spice blend that you use for chicken or ribs, use it to season the potatoes before roasting.
For this quantity of beans, it's probably easiest to use canned black beans, unless you have cooked dried ones from scratch and have some leftover.
Plan on serving these spuds directly from the baking tray, but let everyone know how hot it is.

Beef & Wild Mushrooms in Stout with Champ
Makes 4 servings

In Belgium and France they would call this rich beef stew cooked in beer a carbonnade. It would probably be accompanied by good crusty bread and butter. My Irish roots demand mashed potatoes with green onions and butter, and that's called champ.

•    Large, heavy pot or Dutch oven

Carbonnade
2 lbs    lean stewing beef, cut into chunks and     1 kg
    patted dry
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp    olive oil    30 mL
1    large onion, chopped    1
3 tbsp    packed brown sugar    45 mL
2 tbsp    all-purpose flour    30 mL
2 cups    hot beef broth    500 mL
11⁄2 cups    stout (dark beer)    375 mL
2 tbsp    red wine vinegar    30 mL
2    bay leaves    2
1 tbsp    butter    15 mL
4     strips bacon, diced    4
4 oz    wild mushrooms, trimmed and sliced    125 g
1    large Spanish onion, chopped    1

Champ
2 lbs    floury potatoes, peeled    1 kg
1 tsp    salt    5 mL
2⁄3 cup    whole milk    150 mL
4    green onions, finely chopped     4
3 tbsp    butter (approx.)    45 mL
1⁄4 cup    finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves    60 mL

1.    Carbonnade: Season beef to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. In a large, heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add beef and sear all over, turning with tongs. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

2.    Add onion and sauté for about 10 minutes or until beginning to soften. Stir in brown sugar and sauté for about 10 minutes or until mixture is beginning to brown. Stir in flour until blended. Stir in beef broth and stout and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar and bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Reduce heat to medium and return beef and any accumulated juices back to pot. Reduce heat, cover and gently simmer for 11⁄2 to 2 hours or until beef is tender.

3.    In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook bacon, mushrooms and onion, stirring, for about 12 minutes or until bacon is cooked and vegetables are softened. Drain off fat and transfer bacon mixture to beef mixture, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to very low, cover and keep warm.

4.    Champ: Cut potatoes into uniform chunks. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and add cold water to barely cover. Add salt, cover loosely and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

5.    Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, warm milk. Stir in green onions and bring just to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until onions are tender and flavors have infused.

6.    Drain potatoes well. Return to saucepan over very low heat and shake the pot back and forth to remove any trace of moisture. Using a potato masher, mash in butter. Mash in milk mixture until smooth.

7.    Mound a quarter of the champ on each of four warmed individual shallow soup plates, making a little well in the center. Add a small knob of butter to melt. Spoon a quarter of the carbonnade alongside. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Tips
Any assortment of mushrooms may be used here.
This stew is even better the next day.

Recipes excerpted from 300 Best Potato Recipes: A Complete Cook's Guide by Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission.

Cover photo credit: Colin Erricson