To boil potatoes

(Recipe #1, pages 66 – 67)

People are often not sufficiently careful when boiling potatoes, even though many prefer a tasty potato dish to something more elegant. In any case, the flavor of potatoes depends heavily on careful peeling and washing along with good cooking.

Look for medium potatoes of uniform size; wash before peeling and place in water as soon as they are peeled. Then wash them vigorously several times between your hands, rinse, and set aside covered with fresh water until needed. Then drain them in a colander, pour clear water over them, cover them with boiling water in a large unglazed kettle used only for this purpose, and set them on the stove.

Fresh potatoes as well as fall potatoes (if they have not yet been cellared) will taste better if they are started in cold water, but they must be brought to a boil quickly. Salt must be added immediately; note that fresh potatoes need more salt than older potatoes. If the boiling produces foam, skim at once; boil the potatoes covered at a moderate boil until done.

It is advisable to test for doneness frequently: if they can easily be pierced with a fork, they are ready. They must not be allowed to disintegrate, but must never be brought to the table undercooked. They must be drained carefully, so that no water is left in the kettle. Then replace the covered kettle on the stove for a few minutes, remove the cover, toss the potatoes to let any water evaporate, and replace the cover.

It is better, however, to bring them to the table in a warmed serving dish immediately after tossing, for no food loses its flavor when left to stand more than potatoes do.

The length of time potatoes need to cook depends on both their variety and the time of year. New potatoes need some 15 to 20 minutes; the time increases until April, when you can count on as much as ¾ of an hour.

Potatoes grown in light sandy soil are the best tasting.

Translated by David Green.

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