By Nancy Taber
Hearty, healthy packets of goodness that have a solid place on anyone’s comfort food menu.
There are thousands of varieties of these tubers, believed to originate in what is now Peru. They grow great in most climates and as a storage vegetable, have provided generations of people with sustenance throughout the long winter months. Potatoes suffered from a bad reputation for a while but are actually high in fiber, Vitamin C, Potassium and generally rather on the low side in calories.
In older times, a cooked (hot!) potato was easy to transport in a pocket for a school or work lunch, and offered the added bonus of being a hand warmer.
Potatoes became a mainstay crop for farmer Gordie Gallup, of Silver Queen Farm in Trumansburg, when he found so many area restaurants could use a great local source of the basic vegetable, which grows exceptionally well in his well-drained, gravelly valley soil. Gallup recommends making multiple plantings a week or so apart during the growing season, setting aside some rows to let mature to harvest for winter use. The rest can be dug up throughout the season to enjoy as new potatoes.
His favorites are the tawny-skinned Kennebec, which works superbly for fries, and the Red Pontiac, whose red skin and white flesh is as lovely as it is tasty.
Potatoes can be easily stored if kept from freezing, if harvested after the vines die and the skins have matured. New potatoes, with their delicate skins, are also a treat, and usually can start being harvested several weeks after the plants start blossoming – but they won’t last in storage.
I have fond memories of small, whole new potatoes being served boiled and mixed with freshly harvested peas in a milky broth by my grandmother. Gordie has his own way of turning his spuds into delicious french fries.
Gordie’s French Fries
These are done in a 2-step process. The first step cooks the fry through and the second gives it a nice crispy outer layer. Gordie favors using peanut oil.
Step 1: Cut the potatoes to the desired size, and blanch in oil at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes (adjust time if needed depending on the size – a few minutes less for a thin fry, a few minutes more for a steak fry size). Drain the fries.
Step 2: Heat the oil to 360 degrees F and return the fries to the oil. Cook for three minutes. Drain, sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.
Try these other recipes for some inspiration with locally grown potatoes!