'Tis the Season for Taters - Texasliving

Photo Courtesy of: Meddie Stewart

‘Tis the Season for Taters

Written By: Marye Audet and Meddie Stewart

Potatoes are synonymous with comfort food all over the world. Whether you love crispy fried, rich mashed, or creamy scalloped potatoes there is something for everyone!

Since it is a crop that grows well all over Texas, locally grown potatoes can be found at just about any farmers’ market, no matter the area. Grocery stores might only carry four or five varieties, but there are hundreds to try, from the tiny pink strawberry paw to the deep purple magic molly.

Potatoes are potatoes are potatoes, and they are usually interchangeable in most recipes. Be careful, though, when using a vibrant purple or red heirloom potato; both can make the resulting dish look unappetizing.

How to Store Potatoes

Potatoes keep best when they are stored in a well-ventilated container in a dry, dark spot at about 50°F. In other words, most Texans will want to buy just a week’s worth of potatoes at a time – especially in the summer.

Refrigeration is not recommended for raw potatoes, but cooked potato dishes will keep for up to five days, tightly covered in your refrigerator. Most potato recipes do not freeze well so plan on eating your leftovers within that five-day period.

Photo Courtesy of: Meddie Stewart

Dill Mashed Potatoes

Yields 4 Servings

While most like to keep their mashed potatoes pretty straightforward, there is something special about adding surprise ingredients and flavors, especially when they are delicious! While rosemary could easily be substituted, this recipe puts a spin on a favorite by using dill. If you are a fan of potato salad in the summer, then you are sure to enjoy this hot version!

Ingredients
  • 3 medium (or 2 large) Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¹∕³ cup whole milk or cream (more if desired for consistency)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt (more or less, to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons pepper (more or less, to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill (freshly chopped or dried)
  • Additional dill or chives for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large pot filled at least halfway with water (you may like to add a teaspoon or two of salt), boil the potatoes until easily broken when prodded with a fork.
  2. Drain and return to pot, but avoid setting it back on the heat.
  3. Add the butter, sour cream, and milk. Mash. Add more milk if needed to achieve desired consistency.
  4. Add the garlic salt and pepper. Taste and adjust as needed.
  5. Add the onion powder and dill. Mix well.
  6. Serve topped with additional dill or chives for garnish.
Tips
  • If you are not going to serve them for a while, immediately form a well in the center of the potatoes and add 2 heaping tablespoons of butter in that space. Immediately put the lid on and leave in some place warm.
  • Using room temperature milk, sour cream, or butter will help avoid cooling the potatoes too quickly.
  • If you dislike dill, consider substituting a favorite herb like rosemary or horseradish.
  • Sour cream could easily be substituted with cream cheese or plain Greek yogurt, depending on what you have on hand or prefer.

Photo Courtesy of: Meddie Stewart

Sweet Potato Scramble

Yields 4 Servings

This quick hash can be served for breakfast over the long Thanksgiving weekend, perhaps sandwiched in a bagel or topped with a fried egg. It can also be used as a unique variation on a traditional stuffing, especially if you are serving a smaller crowd and wish to include all the favorite flavors, without the number of dishes. Regardless, this hash is sure to please!

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ medium white or yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary
  • 1 ½ cups fresh spinach (destemmed if you prefer)
  • ¹∕³ cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled
Instructions
  1. On medium heat, warm up oil in a skillet.
  2. Once hot, add onions and sauté until they start to turn translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.
  4. Spread the small cubes of sweet potatoes across the bottom of the skillet. Cook for 1 minute, then stir, spreading them back out into an even layer. Do this until they are fork tender and ready to eat, about 7 minutes.
  5. Next, add the salt, pepper, and rosemary. Taste and add more as needed. Remove from heat.
  6. Add the fresh spinach to the potatoes and fold in, repeatedly, until the spinach wilts.
  7. Add the crumbled cheese and bacon and stir in. Avoid over-mixing.
  8. Serve hot!
Tips
  • Any favorite type of cheese could be used, from cheddar to Monterrey Jack to feta.
  • If you prefer sausage over bacon, cook ½ pound ahead of time and set aside. Use the sausage grease instead of the oil in the pan to cook the onions. Add the sausage after the spices are added, but before the spinach, and stir.

Pesto Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

Yields 4 Servings

Creamy comfort food meets bold Italian flavors in this updated scalloped potato recipe. Instead of slicing, use tiny baby potatoes, cook until done, and stir them into the sauce whole. This recipe is especially good with roast chicken.

Ingredients
  • 1 ½ pounds red skinned or Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ cup half-and-half cream
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for the top
  • 5 ounces prepared basil pesto, pour out extra olive oil on the surface
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease a 3-quart casserole dish with butter.
Potatoes
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil with a teaspoon of salt.
  2. Add potatoes and cook for 4 minutes, or until cooked but still very firm (slightly undercooked). Drain and set aside.
Cream Sauce
  1. Melt the butter in a heavy pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the flour, whisking until it forms a thick paste.
  3. Switch heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes; be sure that it does not scorch.
  4. Add the milk, half-and-half cream, and whisk until smooth.
  5. Add the garlic clove and increase the heat to medium. Cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  6. Remove the garlic clove and discard.
  7. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the Parmesan and pesto until completely combined.
  8. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Assembly
  1. Layer half the potatoes in the casserole dish.
  2. Add half the cream sauce.
  3. Repeat the layers again.
  4. Butter (or spray with cooking spray) the underside of aluminum foil and seal over the potatoes, buttered side down. This keeps the foil from sticking to the top.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the foil and add more Parmesan over the top.
  7. Bake for 10 more minutes, or until bubbly and golden.
  8. Check potatoes for doneness with a fork. Let stand for 5 minutes and then serve hot.