Sometimes being impatient pays off — at least when it comes to harvesting tiny, new potatoes. Summer is prime time to pick and consume the petite spuds, which grow on the same plants as their more mature counterparts.
Amy Thielen, chef and host of the Food Network's Heartland Table, joined MPR News' Tom Crann to explain the basics of these summertime vegetables.
How to harvest
For starters, new potatoes are merely smaller, newer editions of full-grown potatoes, rather than a specific kind. "You can have new potatoes of any variety," Thielen said.
Potato plants need about 60 days for the plant to develop new spuds that are the prime size. At that point, it's OK to take a few of the golf ball-sized potatoes from the plant. There is no harm done and the plant will be just fine.
"Mid-July, that's when you see that the flowers have already sprouted on the potatoes, on the plants, and they're almost ready," Thielen said. "That's when I start to kind of dig underneath and see what's down there."
Save the skins
New potatoes tend to have thin, sweet skins that add to the potatoes' taste. Thielen attributes this to the fact that these young potatoes have not been left to cure in the sun, which makes the skins harder and acidic.
Russets yield Thielen's favorite potato skin. "When you grow them yourself, the skins are actually the sweetest on the Russets," she said.
As for yellow and red potatoes, Thielen recommends being particularly gentle.
"When you handle them and clean them you almost have to think of them as eggs, as if they're fragile," she said. "Because if you just were to rough them up, the skins just will peel back."
Prepping the potatoes
Thielen keeps preparation simple.
"You just wash and kind of rub them with coarse salt to get them clean, and you don't even have to boil those [new potatoes]," Thielen said. "You just roll them around in butter until they're done."
But whatever you do, Thielen said, keep those skins intact.
Recipe: New Potatoes with Cream and Baby KaleServes 6 as a side dish
• 1 1/2 pounds baby new potatoes • 3 tablespoons butter • 3 cloves garlic, smashed • 5 cups chopped small kale (lacinato or red Russian) washed and shredded thickly • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard • 2/3 cup cream • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste • coarse salt for serving
Cook the potatoes in plenty of salted boiling water, uncovered, until very tender when poked with a fork. Keep a close watch; new potatoes cook quickly.
Drain the potatoes and put the dry pot back on the flame. Add the butter and garlic cloves and cook until the garlic turns golden.
Add the cream and mustard and stir to combine. Add the potatoes and kale and cook, stirring, until the greens wilt and the bubbling cream clings to the potatoes.
Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately with more coarse salt on top.