Super Spuds

Reporter: Jasmine Homer

Potatoes have been given a bad rap at times; labelled --stodgy, starchy even fatty.

But GP Dr Joe Kosterich says the humble spud has been "wrongfully accused."

Dr Joe says, not only are potatoes a great source of complex or "good" carbohydrates.

They're virtually fat free, full of nutrients like vitamin C, iron and potassium and pretty low on the GI scale, to boot. "Including potatoes as part of a healthy diet whether you're trying to lose weight or whether you're trying to maintain your weight is never going to be a problem."

So, to give us a fresh look at an old staple, we've enlisted the - help of the West's food editor, Rob Broadfield.

First, a summer barbeque favourite with a bit of a gourmet twist. "We're going to do a potato bake today really simple one, it carries a little bit of cream in there which is great but a little bit goes a long way so that's fine."

For this, Rob's best tip - invest in a mandolin slicer. And "The rock and roll element of this is the nutmeg, the fresh nutmeg. Try and buy the fresh one and microplane it, the taste difference is superb."

You can pick up a mandolin slicer for about 45 dollars at a kitchenware shop.

Rob says, it'll slice your potato-prepping time down to almost nothing.

Next, Rob's got the skinny on a snack that's anything but honestly, who can resist them? "Now I've tried homemade chips a few times Rob but I can never seem to get them crispy enough what's the secret?

Well the traditional chefs will tell you you've got to cook them twice, once at 140 degrees to blanch them in the oil and then once at 180 to 190 to finish them and that gives you a fluffy centre and a crisp outside. We can't do that.

But the important thing is you've got to have enough oil, I think where most people's chips go soggy in the home is they don't have enough oil."

To take the chopping out of chipping - Rob's Time Saving Device number 2; "What you really want is one of these it's a chipper, they're about 35 bucks at a store, you put your spud in there and there you go"

We're cooking our chips in Canola Oil, pre-heated to 190 degrees. "Don't overfill your pan because it could froth up everywhere and burn your house down." So, the chip lover's best friend - about 35 dollars, again - from a good kitchen ware store.

Creation number three; who doesn't love a baked potato? Especially one with twice the topping.

"So we've roasted this in the oven this is a good sized potato at about 200 degrees for about an hour. Takes a fair while. It does take a fair while. Now cut a bit of the flesh out. So that way you can have two different flavours on your spud instead of just the one topping on a baked potato."

There's cheddar, which Rob pairs with the bacon and on the chorizo - some provolone.

And into the oven for just long enough to melt the cheese.

"When you buy your spring onions, a little tip, put them in a glass of water. What does that do? Keeps them fresh. They think they're growing still."

Fresh, simple, tasty - it's all the inspiration you should need.

Potato bake, French style

By Rob Broadfield

In France they call it potato daupinoise (cream, Gruyere cheese, potatoes) or Boulangerie potatoes (onions, potato, chicken stock) and in Australia we call it a potato bake. Whatever you call it, thinly sliced potatoes layered up in a baking dish and cooked with cream or milk or stock is one of the best quick suppers you can make or a seriously good vegetable garnish for meat dishes, especially roasts.

We've taken a little from each version to give you our tried and true potato bake.

For 6 as a vegetable accompaniment and 4 as a supper dish.

INGREDIENTS

2kg of big waxy potatoes, sliced thinly on a mandolin 600ml of pouring cream a whole nutmeg (or powdered if you can't get whole)

2 cups of grated cheese (Gruyere is traditional, but cheddar is just as good and a lot cheaper) 100g butter.

Salt and pepper to season.

METHOD

1. Rub some of the butter onto the bottom of a small, high-sided roasting pan.

2. Lay out overlapping slices of potato until the bottom is all covered. Season well with salt and pepper, use a microplane to lightly grate some nutmeg over the potatoes. Drizzle some cream evenly over the potatoes. Finally, sprinkle a light layer of cheese on top.

3. Repeat step two, three more times or until you run out of potatoes.

4. Top off with a layer of spuds, then slowly pour in more cream until just below the surface of the top layer of spuds. Press lightly on the potatoes with your palms (messy but necessary) to squeeze out any air and make sure the cream is distributed evenly. Place some small knobs of butter randomly on top of the bake.

5. Bake in an 180C oven for 70 minutes.

NOTE: a mandolin is indispensable for this recipe. No one wants to be cutting the spuds manually, when a cheap as chips Japanese mandolin can dispose of 2kgs of potato in about two minutes. You can buy them at most kitchenware shops.

www.freshpotatoes.com.au