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Chilling Facts About Potatoes

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Category: Potatoes, Vegetables

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The Splendid Table, Tips for Vegetable Cookery

Tips for Vegetable Cookery from Food Scientist Shirley Corriher

A chef or caterer who has a busy day ahead may cut potatoes for French
fries and place them in a large container of ice water in the walk-in
overnight. The next day when these potatoes are fried, they get very dark
and look done but are raw in the center. These potatoes fried perfectly
the day before. What happened?

When potatoes (or a number of starchy vegetables) stay chilled for a period
of time, some of the starch breaks down into sugar. Now, these higher
sugar content potatoes brown much faster. The sugar and protein content,
along with the acidity, determine how fast a food will brown. If left at
room temperature for a day or so, the sugars will join back together to
form starch. If you have whole potatoes stored at a cool temperature, you
may want to leave them at room temperature a day before frying.

Cooks can use this little bit of science to make better low-fat oven fries.
One of the problems with making fake French fries by roasting potato strips
in the oven is that they get not so very brown. If you soak cut potatoes
overnight in ice water in the refrigerator (maybe even add a little sugar),
steam them a few minutes to partially cook, then toss them in something
alkaline (less acidic) like slightly old egg whites, lightly beaten and
sprinkled generously with herbs,cayenne, salt, pepper and a small amount of
Parmesan, these potatoes will brown nicely in a hot oven. Be generous with
the seasonings. Remember, one of the great problems with low-fat cookery is
lack of flavor.

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