We’re in the height of summer now—which means picnics, barbecues and all manner of excuses to eat and drink outside. And, at least for this root-vegetable-loving writer, no summertime cookout is complete without a good old-fashioned potato salad. There’s something inherently summery about this potluck staple; versatile, nostalgic, substantial but not too heavy for hot weather.
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Personally, I like potato skins—but there are plenty of people in the peeled-potato camp, and that makes what should be an easy-breezy summer salad a little more labor intensive. As anyone whose grandmother has enlisted them for help in the kitchen can attest, peeling potatoes is, in fact, the worst. And that’s true year-round.
Luckily, Food & Wine’s one and only Mad Genius is back with a hack to make quick work of those pesky peels—inspired by his undying love for a cold-weather favorite. “I love mashed potatoes,” says Deputy Test Kitchen Editor Justin Chapple. “They are literally one of my favorite things in the whole entire world… but, you know, I’m not down with spending 20 minutes peeling them and cutting them into pieces.”
His tip for easy-peel potatoes is, surprisingly, to boil them whole. The trick? Score them all the way around the circumference with a paring knife. According to Justin, “When it’s boiling, the skin’s going to start to release and they’re going to be so much easier to peel.”
After simmering your spuds for about 30 minutes, let them cool—Justin suggests submerging them in a large bowl of ice-water—and the peels should slip right off. “You literally just wipe off the potato peels,” he says. “Almost like magic.”
For more kitchen hacks, check out the rest of Food & Wine’s Mad Genius Tips.