The Idaho Potato Commission's first Idaho Potato Happy Hour Recipe Contest ran from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2008, and challenged professional chefs and cooks at restaurants and other noncommercial foodservice establishments as well as culinary students to put pen to paper and share their surefire Idaho potato happy hour recipe secrets. In total, $35,000 was awarded in cash and prizes to the top recipe submissions in three categories: Appetizers, Side Dishes and Late-Night Snacks.

In total, seven recipes won first and second place in the three categories. The Grand Prize winner (and first-place Appetizer winner), Porcupine Idaho Potatoes With Hot Pepper Jelly Dipping Sauce (recipe below), submitted by Tommy Masaracchia, executive chef/owner of Tope La Restaurant in Hammond, La., dazzled the tasters. Other winning recipes included:
  • Second-place Appetizer: Parmesan Fried Diced Idaho Potatoes; Mark Newton, executive chef, Ohio State University
  • First-place Side Dish: Stuffed Idaho Potato Hashbrowns; Benjamin Thoen, chef, Good Thyme Woodfire Grill and Catering, Washburn, Wis.
  • Second-place Side Dish: Truffled Parmesan Idaho Potato Cannoli; Martin Wolf, executive chef, Greenville Tech Carolina Culinary Institute, Easley, S.C.
  • First-place Late-Night Snack: Idaho Potato Arancini; Pete Dressen, executive chef, Walden Country Inn, Aurora, Ohio
  • Second-place Late-Night Snack: Fully Loaded Idaho Potato Gnocchi; Jorge De La Torre, dean of culinary education, Johnson & Wales University, Denver Campus
  • Second Place Late-Night Snack: Irish Style Nachos With Idaho Potatoes; Patterson Watkins, catering manager, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
To view the winning recipes and photography, visit

Porcupine Idaho Potatoes with Hot Pepper Jelly Dipping Sauce
Tommy Masaracchia, executive chef/owner, Tope La Restaurant, Hammond, La.
Image courtesy of the Idaho Potato Commission

Yield: 48 porcupine potatoes or 12 appetizers

6 (50-ct.) Idaho potatoes
3 1/2 oz. salted butter, melted
5 oz. sour cream
8 oz. American cheese, shredded
5 c. buttermilk
5 T. salt
2 1/2 T. black pepper
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. granulated garlic
1 box (15 oz.) shredded wheat, large biscuits
All-purpose flour, as needed
Hot Pepper Jelly Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)

Method (1) Clean Idaho potatoes, and place on sheet pan. Bake at 350°F for 1-1 1/2 hours or until cooked throughout. Remove from oven, and let cool. Cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop out the potato into a large bowl. (2) Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until 80% mashed. Add remaining ingredients, and mix well. (3) Form potato balls using a 1-oz. scoop. Allow to cool before breading. (4) In another bowl, add the buttermilk with the salt, black pepper, cayenne and granulated garlic. Mix well. (5) In a third bowl, add the shredded wheat, and crush with hands until all chunks have been crushed. (6) Dust potato balls in flour, and add to seasoned buttermilk. (7) Place potato balls in shredded wheat, and roll around until coated all over. Continue until all potato balls have been breaded. (8) To cook, fry in a preheated 350°F fryer until golden brown. Serve 4 porcupine potatoes per appetizer with 2 oz. of Hot Pepper Jelly Dipping Sauce.

Hot Pepper Jelly Dipping Sauce
3 c. red bell pepper, minced
1 1/2 c. green bell pepper, minced
2/3 c. apple cider vinegar
2 1/4 t. crushed red pepper
2 2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 oz. pectin

Method (1) Add all ingredients except pectin to a sauce pot. Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (2) Add pectin, and continue to cook for 1 minute. (3) Keep warm for serving. (Note: There is not enough pectin in this jelly to stiffen. This jelly will keep a sauce consistency.)