Potato Varieties: A Complete Guide To Cooking With Spuds
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Potatoes are a star staple that light up many a food-lover's eye, but half the battle in creating stellar spuds is in buying the right type of potato. What you need to understand is that potatoes fall into two important categories that impact the outcome of your dish: starchy and waxy (plus a category that lies somewhere in between those two). Let's break it down:
Starchy: Like the classic Idaho or Russet, these potatoes are (obviously) high in starch and low in moisture. They're fluffy, making them great for boiling, baking and frying, but they don't hold their shape well, so they should be avoided in dishes like casseroles, gratins and potato salads.
Waxy: Like Red Bliss or New Potatoes, these have a low starch content and are often characterized by a creamy, firm and moist flesh that holds its shape well after cooking. They're typically great for roasting, boiling, casseroles and potato salads.
All-Purpose: These potatoes have a medium starch content that fall somewhere in between the starchy and waxy potatoes. They're a true multi-purpose potato, and therefore can be used for just about any cooking application. A classic example is the Yukon Gold.
Once you know which type of potato you need for your particular dish, you can afford to be as creative as you'd like when choosing varieties at the market. For instance, if you're thinking of making a potato gratin, you know you're looking for a firm, waxy potato -- you can choose from a bright blue Purple Peruvian, a yellow Inca Gold, or any other waxy variety.
See the slideshow below for 13 of our favorite potatoes. Each potato is categorized as starchy, waxy or all-purpose -- you'll also learn about each potato's appearance, flavor and texture, as well as the best and worst methods to cook them. Enjoy!