The Simple Secret to Winning at Dinner Every Night
Whipping up a delicious dinner on the regular has it challenges—but this little trick helps guarantee suppertime success. Big time.
Besides eggs and butter and, well, snacking cheese if I'm being honest, the one thing I always wish I had in my fridge (even when I don’t) are boiled potatoes. I know, not very sexy. But simply boiled potatoes, especially tiny boiled potatoes, are the ticket to three of the easiest, tastiest, most satisfying weeknight sides I, or you, could ever ask for. Potatoes of all kinds are inexpensive, last for weeks in the pantry, and are so easy to prep you’ll wonder why you haven’t been boiling a pot of potatoes every Sunday of your life.
Sometimes labeled Micro potatoes, these petite tubers are often sold in 24 ounce net bags, a nice amount for four adults or two with leftovers. If you’re cooking for one, though, go ahead and buy that bag because you're about to learn how to reinvent those potatoes for the rest of the week. Here’s how to take advantage of my favorite taters.
If you’re cooking 24 ounces of potatoes go ahead and place them in a medium pot. I like this 3 ½-quart one by all-clad. (Great for potatoes but also excellent for oatmeal, rice, etc. It’s an investment but you’ll have it forever) Cover with water so it clears the potatoes by about an inch. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander then return them to the same pot. The residual heat left in the pot will help dry off the potatoes. That’s a good thing.
Let the potatoes cool slightly and then pop them in a resealable container. Then, when you’re ready, try one of these riffs.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil to the pot with the dry potatoes along with a handful of chopped parsley, mint, and/or chives. I like a combination of the three. Season aggressively with salt and pepper and serve. Or, if you made your vinaigrette like a good student, go ahead and toss them with that. This one is really best made with warm potatoes, so my suggestion is to make these the first night with half of the potatoes then save the other half for one of the other ideas below.
Use your fingers to gently squeeze the cooled potatoes apart into pieces with jagged edges. This approach works for leftover baked russets and Yukon Golds, too. Heat a ½-inch or so of oil (olive or vegetable is fine) in a large skillet until shimmering. Add potatoes and cook, turning occasionally, until golden all over. Transfer to a platter and season with salt. If you need comforting on a rainy day or Wednesday, add a couple tablespoons of butter to the skillet and pour over the potatoes. Or, skip the butter and toss with a savory combo of olive oil, red wine vinegar, a handful of chopped olives and a finely chopped shallot. Or that vinaigrette. If you're smart (you are) you should start to connect the RS Cooking School dots.
Everybody’s not so secret favorite, the crispy smashed potato is the original reason to keep boiled potatoes in the fridge. Once you make them you'll understand why. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet and scatter the potatoes over it. Using a flat-bottomed juice glass or measuring cup, gently but firmly flatten each potato, then turn to coat in the oil. At this point you have two options. Option 1. Season with S & P, transfer to a 450°F oven, and roast, flipping halfway through, until golden on both sides. Option 2. Proceed as above for crushed potatoes and pan-fry, flipping once, until golden and crispy. It's really just a question of did you remember to preheat the oven/would you rather wash a baking sheet or a skillet. Your call. Meanwhile, eat some carrot sticks while you fry a couple eggs. Put eggs on potatoes. Dinner is served.
No matter which direction you go, remember potatoes (and all starches like rice, pasta, flour, etc.) need salt and can handle a decent amount of it. We season the cooking water so the potatoes get seasoned on the inside, but be prepared to season them on the outside, too. Taste, season, taste, season, and taste. If you’ve done it right, it should be hard to stop tasting. Get it?
Get some boiled spuds in the fridge stat and enjoy potato perfection every night of the week. When those run out you can make our newly famous Melting Potatoes. Either way, you're a winner.