Potatoes: How do you choose the right potatoes for a recipe?

This week I got an e-mail from Dawn asking how to choose the best potato variety for a recipe. Because I have often gotten this question, I included a special note on potato varieties in my first two books. For many recipes, the kind of potato you use makes a very big difference.

There are two important categories of potatoes, baking and boiling. Baking potatoes, or russets, become soft and fluffy when cooked and are good for any recipe in which you want a lot of starch such as shredded potato pancakes, mashed potatoes, or gnocchi. Boiling or waxy potatoes remain firm when cooked. Choose them for stew and potato salad. Round red potatoes and long white potatoes are boiling potatoes. There are also all-purpose potatoes that share some of the characteristics of both baking and boiling potatoes and can be used in any recipe. Yukon Gold potatoes are an example of all-purpose potatoes. You’ll find more information in Sara Moulton Cooks at Home (page 254) and Sara’s Secrets for Weeknight Meals (page 109.)

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