One of the most challenging things about meal planning is predicting what future you is going to want to eat. I am very bad at this, as my palate often craves last-minute adventure, but one thing that always excites is potatoes.
Still, I don’t want to eat the same kind of potato every single day. Sometimes I want them mashed, sometimes I want them crispy, and having a few pounds of par-cooked potatoes lets me enjoy whatever my mood demands.
Rather than spend 45 minutes frying, roasting, or whipping up a mash, you can grab a serving of spuds, then fry or mash as you please. I par-cooked some Yukon Golds in my pressure cooker on Monday, and was able to cook up some beef tallow-fried beauties in about seven minutes on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, I enjoyed a five-minute mash. I’ll probably pivot back to crispy tonight.
To prepare a week’s worth of potatoes for a week’s worth of enjoyment, grab a few kilos of your favourite spud (I like Yukons here), wash them, and cut them into 5cm chunks (peeling is optional). Place them in your Instant Pot on top of a trivet or steamer basket, and pour a cup of water into the insert. Cook the potatoes for five minutes under high pressure, followed by an immediate manual release. The potatoes are now ready for roasting, frying, or mashing, and can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.
For crispy potatoes
The quickest route to crispy potatoes is a shallow fry in some sort of delicious cooking fat. Heat a few tablespoons of your favourite frying oil in a large stainless steel or cast iron pan until it’s shimmering. Beef tallow and duck fat are both superb, but vegetable oil works great too. Cook as many potatoes as you desire for a couple of minutes on each side, letting a crust form before flipping onto the next side. (If a crust is not fully formed, the potato will stick.) Once every side is a deep, golden brown, transfer to paper towels and season with salt.
For mashed potatoes
Heat a sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat for a few minutes, then add your required amount of potato chunks, about eight chunks per person. Mash ‘em around for a few minutes to drive off excess moisture. (If you have a potato ricer, you can rice the potatoes directly into your cooking vessel, and stir them around for about a minute.) Add a tablespoon of salted butter for every eight pieces of potato, and continue to mash until the butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat, and stir in one teaspoon of mayo per tablespoon of butter. Season with salt and pepper, add another pat of butter if desired, and enjoy.