Steve Mitchell, new head chef at the Three Crowns Restaurant and Inn at Scouthead, shares some tips for cooking with the humble potato.
Find out more about the Three Crowns and their menus by visiting their website or by calling them on 0161 624 1766.
THE humble potato. Potatoes are nutritious, delicious and endlessly versatile. It is by far the single most important vegetable used in Europe today.
From when it was first cultivated some 5,000 years ago in Peru and introduced to Europe via Spain in the 1550s and made its way to England in the 1590s chefs and cooks have embraced the potato and created countless flavoursome dishes.
There are so many different varieties of potatoes, each with their individual characteristics. In fact, there are over 4,000 varieties. In the kitchen we select the variety we need for each specific dish.
For example, the best varieties for mash are Desiree, Kestrel or Estima whereas the best potatoes for chips are the classic Maris Piper, King Edward or Yukon Gold.
As we come towards the summer months we find ourselves in a slightly tricky position with potato crops as we are between seasons. The availability of good chipping potatoes decreases. Incidentally the price rises significantly.
We then have to look further afield to source a good quality chipping potato. One of the best varieties at this time of year is the Cyprus potato.
One of the best ways you can experiment with different potatoes at home is to go to a farmers’ market. You will be able to find some lesser known and grown types of potato there. Ask the grower about each different potato and what they are best used for.
Take them home and get cooking. Make your favourite potato dish, whether it is creamy mash, crispy chips or a rich dauphinoise, and enjoy the delicate and subtle taste differences between the varieties.