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Potato Round-Up

Steven Brown via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

With Thanksgiving just ahead next week, it seems to be a great time to ponder one of the mainstays of the great feast. Whether you have a turkey or not, I'm willing to bet you will have some kind of potatoes on the table.

And as a public service Chef Jerry Pellegrino would like to do a potato round-up and pass on some good information.

The world of potatoes is divided into the waxy and floury. Let's look closer.

Baby creamers are small young potatoes with a very tender flesh. All you need to do is boil 'em and mash 'em. I like to use olive oil rather than butter to dress them. They also make amazing home fries.


The famous russet is a great baking potato and the default choice for French fries.


Round red potatoes have a high water content. Thus they are perfect for hot roasting, or they can be boiled for potato salad. The thin skinned white potatoes, round or oblong are perfect for dishes like scalloped potatoes.


Fingerling potatoes seemed to have been designed for oven roasting. The long, thin oblong potatoes were meant to be sliced lengthwise, seasoned and baked for a delicious side dish.


But if Jerry had to live the rest of his life with just one potato it would be the celebrated Yukon Gold. Developed and released by a Canadian agronomist Gary Johnston in 1980, it quickly seized the imagination of cooks everywhere. It is truly an all-purposed potato. You can boil it, bake it, use it for potato salad, and most importantly, make the creamiest mashed potatoes you could ever ask for.


Jerry has cooked up some great ideas for potato lovers.

Potato Salad


1 ½ lbs. red bliss potatoes, cut into ½ inch - 1 inch cubes

½ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

4 tablespoons dried mustard

3 large, hard-boiled eggs, cut into cubes

4 strips thick sliced smoked bacon cooked until crispy

2 green onions, sliced

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

salt & freshly ground black pepper

Gently boil the potatoes until just tender. Drain well and cool to room temperature.

Place the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar and dried mustard in a large salad bowl and whisk to combine. Add the potatoes and remaining ingredients and toss to combine.

Cover and refrigerate salad until ready to serve.

Homemade Mayonnaise


6 egg yolks

1 lemon juice, zest and juice

the zest of one lemon

½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste

16 oz. blended oil

Place all the ingredients except the oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.

Process until combined well. With the motor running, slowly add the oil until the aioli has emulsified.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.


Julia Child’s Potato Leek Soup



1 large or 2 small leeks, about 1 pound

2 bay leaves

20 blackpeppercorns

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tablespoons butter

2 strips bacon, chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

5 cups chicken stock

1 to 1 1/4 poundsrusset potatoes, diced

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 to 3/4 cup creme fraiche orheavy cream



Trim the green portions of the leek and, using 2 of the largest and longest leaves, make a bouquet garni by folding the 2 leaves around thebay leaves, peppercorns and thyme. Tie into a package-shaped bundle with kitchen twine and set aside. (Alternately, tie 2 leek leaves, bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme together in a piece ofcheesecloth.)

Using a sharp knife, halve the white part of the leek lengthwise and rinse well under cold running water to rid the leek of any sand. Slice thinly crosswise and set aside.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the bacon. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat. Add the chopped leeks and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the reserved bouquet garni,chicken stock, potatoes, salt andwhite pepper, and bring to a boil. 

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are falling apart and the soup is very flavorful.

Remove thebouquet garni and, working in batches, puree the soup in afood processor or blender. (Alternately, if you own animmersion blender, puree the soup directly in the pot.) Stir in the creme fraiche and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve immediately, with some of the snippedchives sprinkled over the top of each bowl of soup. 

Lyonnaise Potatoes


¼ cup olive oil

2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces

3 onions, julienned

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

Heat oil in a large skillet (we find that a non-stick skillet works the best) over medium-low heat. 

Once hot, cover bottom of pan with half the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with half the butter and repeat so all the potatoes and butter are used. Cook until potatoes begin to brown on the bottom, 10 to 15 minutes. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until onions and potatoes are cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Toss together. Add the parsley and serve immediately. 


Yukon Gold Rustic Mashed Potatoes


1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, cleaned

5 large whole garlic cloves

1 cup half & half

4 tablespoons butter

hot sauce & salt

Cover the potatoes with water in a large pot. Add the garlic cloves and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and garlic in a colander. Put them back in the pot. Add the half and half and butter and mash until your desired texture. Season with hot sauce and salt and serve immediately.


Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.