Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Profitable potatoes for holiday menus (and beyond)

by Lacey Griebeler, Chef Magazine

Any way you slice them--or cook them, for that matter--potatoes are a great addition to your holiday party spreads. They're easy to use in fresh or prepared forms, they're always a crowd pleaser, and they've got an incredibly low food cost. But the best part? Potatoes are adaptable to most any style of cuisine, as well as any buffet or banquet setting, so you can truly showcase your creativity. Here are a couple ideas that came across Chef Magazine's desk.

Taking potatoes upscale
Potatoes are a simple comfort food for pretty much everyone, but even your fine-dining events can benefit from a thoughtful potato dish. And there's no fear in compromising on the classiness of the event when you can serve up, for instance, rich potatoes cooked in goose fat.

Crisp Goose-Fat Idaho Potatoes
Chef David Waizog, Wynn Resort, Las Vegas
and the Idaho Potato Commission

Yield: 4-6 servings

4 sprigs of thyme, divided
2 sprigs of rosemary, divided
2 bay leaves
3 large Idaho potatoes, 34" dice
1 T. kosher salt
8 c. water
Herb-Infused Goose Fat (recipe follows)
Reserved chopped thyme and rosemary, from Herb-Infused Goose Fat preparation
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
Course sea salt, for finishing
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, for garnish
1/4 c. parsley, coarsely chopped , for garnish

Method (1) Tie thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs and bay leaves together with twine. Put potatoes, herbs and salt into a large pot, and add water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook about 10 minutes; the potatoes will hold their shape, but will be tender and almost cooked through. Drain well and set aside, discarding the herbs. (2) Preheat oven to 400°F. Strain and reserve the Herb-Infused Goose Fat, discarding the garlic and herbs. Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl, add the reserved chopped herb leaves and 1/3 c. Herb-Infused Goose Fat, and stir well. (Some potatoes will break apart; some will hold their shape.) Season with salt and pepper. (3) Tightly pack the potatoes into a 6"-diameter baking dish or skillet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Let cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes, and refrigerate until ready to use. (To this point, may be prepared day prior.) (4) When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 375°F. Invert the potato cake onto a baking sheet, unmold, and brush with some Herb-Infused Goose Fat. Bake for 40 minutes, basting frequently with remaining Herb-Infused Goose Fat. Transfer to a serving platter, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, sliced garlic and chopped parsley.

Herb-Infused Goose Fat
3/4 c. melted goose fat
6 stems thyme (leaves removed, chopped and reserved)
2 stems rosemary (leaves removed, chopped and reserved)
6 cloves garlic, cracked
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. black pepper, freshly ground

Method (1) In a small saucepan, add the goose fat, herb stems, garlic, salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook very gently, stirring occasionally. (2) After 15 minutes, or if the garlic is browning too quickly, remove the pan from the heat, and allow the garlic and herbs to steep until needed.


Mashed potato fiesta
As the weather turns cool, add a little heat to the menu with a lively side dish like chipotle mashed potatoes. The recipe below, made with Simplot's Idahoan Real Mashed Potatoes, uses ingredients inspired by south of the border--like chipotle in adobo sauce, lime juice and cilantro--and only comes out to 21 cents per serving, according to Simplot. Idahoan Real Mashed Potatoes are a high-quality, dehydrated mashed potato product with the authentic taste, texture and appearance of scratch-made mashed potatoes, making them versatile for operators. Visit www.simplotfoods.com.

Chipotle Idahoan Real Mashed Potatoes

Yield: 28 4-oz. servings

16 oz. Simplot Simply Sweet Cut Corn
1 package (13 oz.) Simplot Idahoan Real Mashed Potatoes
8 oz. Manchego cheese, shredded
2 oz. butter, melted
2 oz. honey
2 fl. oz. lime juice
2 t. cilantro, chopped
56 fl oz. water
2 t. chipotle in Adobo Sauce, puréed

Method (1) Heat corn in a pot of water, uncovered, and bring up to 165°F. Cook quickly, and do not overcook or allow product to sit in water for an extended time period. Drain. (2) Combine the corn, mashed potatoes, cheese, butter, honey, lime juice and cilantro in a 4" half hotel pan. (3) Bring water to a boil; mix in chipotle to disperse. Add to mashed potato ingredients. (4) Stir well so that all the mashed potatoes are wet. Cover, and let stand 1 minute. Fluff before serving.


In the chips
Fingerling potato varieties are perfect for holiday menus (and year-round) with their bright colors and fun shapes. New potatoes can be prepared in numerous ways, everything from roasting to boiling; check out the Idaho Potato Commission's directory, complete with pictures and cooking tips. Consider highlighting new potato varieties in chip form, always ideal for whetting appetites. The pinkish Ruby Crescent fingerling variety fries up in a particularly festive hue.

New from Lamb Weston, Lamb's Natural Yukon Chips are gourmet quality potato chips made from premium Yukon Gold potatoes and sliced thick with the skin on in the wavy-cut style for extra crispness. These fresh-cooked chips are a unique offering with a low food cost, customizable to your menu.

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