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Personally I am a strong advocate for Agria potatoes for over 90% of my potato dishes. They are a great all round potato. They hold fairly well for roasting, have a wonderful yellow flesh that deep fries or roasts to a gorgeous even golden colour (as opposed to white and brown patches with other potatoes) and as for mashing they are simply the best! They do not absorb too much water, have an old fashioned potato flavour and give you that great yellow colour without having to add the butter and egg yolk (thus decreasing the fat in your diet).

If you can get them where you are, I am almost positive that like me, you will not use other varieties again!

But potato varieties differ from country to country and are too numerous to list. Mostly these days though, supermarkets have posters up informing you of local potato types and their recommended uses. If bought in bags these normally give you teh same information.

Different potato varieties have a different chemical make up, making them more suited to different methods of cooking.

Waxy potatoes

These tend to be more the new season potatoes. They have, as their name suggests, a waxy texture to them that prevent them absorbing water and breaking up, as such they are great for boiling.

They tend to have more of a sweet taste as opposed to that earthy flavour of other potatoes. The sweetness comes from the fact they are dug up while young and small which prevents the natural sugars converting to starch.

These natural sugars will also cause them to brown unevenly if fried, the unevenness is because the sugars on the surface will caramelise or dextrinise before any of the minimum starch will.

Floury potatoes

These tend to be the larger, later season potatoes. Most of the natural sugars have converted to starch, giving them their starchiness and flour type texture. They will absorb water more easily as they cook and the more floury they are the more likely they are to swell and burst when boiled. They are best used for mashing or deep frying but not recommended for piped potato dishes like Duchesse as they absorb too much water.

General purpose potatoes

These are mid way between a waxy and floury potato. They have a more even balance of natural sugars and converted starch. They will hold for boiling, mash well and retain their shape and do not break up when roasted, fried and also sautéed.

Potato chips

Tried making your own? Had them come out either with soggy middles or burnt? You are probably 99.9% correct if you thought it has more to do with the potato than your cooking. The problem you are having is almost certainly because of the type of potato you are using. I have always found that most white fleshed potatoes when used for potato chips:

  • either are left with white soggy patches and dark brown edges
  • or brown too much by the time they are crisp

This is due in part to the way the starch and sugars are distributed within the potato. It is the natural sugar in food that allows it to brown, either through dextrinisation (applying dry heat for making toast) or caramelising (applying moist heat). As a professional chef I am a dedicated user of Agria potatoes. A yellow fleshed variety that is a great all rounder, it has enough starch to be a wonderful masher, sugars for boiling, holds together well for roasting, etc and the flesh colour gives truly amazing result for deep frying! As to the latter, for French fries and potato chips, etc the colour holds and fries to a superb even golden brown, while being crisp as crisp can be.

I do then strongly suggest looking around and finding a store that sells either yellow flesh potatoes like Golden Wonder or Agria . . . trust me, you will never go back to the whatever is available or cheapest again.

As for other hints for potato chips . . . if you are not too bothered about salt, in place of normal salt for seasoning, try one of the many flavoured salts now available like garlic, onion, etc or maybe a nice flaked sea salt. Better still . . . take some garlic cloves, lightly pierce the skin with a sharp knife, place them in an airtight container of salt, leave for a week to make your own flavoured salt!

Making great mashed potatoes - Duchesse potato mix

  • The key here is to have as dry a mash as possible at the end, so you can then add cream, butter, etc without ending up with a squelchy mess!

  • I find potatoes mash better when they are cooked in their skins. This is because the skin helps prevent water absorption. However, the down side to this is you need even sized potatoes, so they all cook at the same rate. You can of course always bake them first or microwave them.

  • If you must cut the potatoes for boiling, cut them as even sized as you can and approximately 5cm (2 inches) in size. Any smaller and they absorb too much water as they cook, any larger and either the inside does not cook fully (meaning lumps) or by the time it has fully cooked the outer potato has over cooked and becomes water logged.

  • Do not cut too far ahead of time. If you leave them sitting in water, they will absorb the water and give you a soggy mash.

  • Ensure the potatoes are only just covered in water. The longer they take too come to the boil the more likely they are to absorb the water.

  • Ensure the potatoes are kept fully covered as they boil, any potato left sticking out of the water will not fully cook and can cause your mash to be lumpy.

  • Drain the potatoes as soon as they are cooked, do not leave them sitting in the water. A large colander is best for this, as the greater surface area allows steam (moisture) to escape, giving you drier potatoes. Allow them to sit like this for five minutes before mashing.

  • The potatoes can also be placed back into a large dry saucepan then:
  • placed back onto the heat with a lid
  • shake them for a few seconds and remove the lid, this will allow any steam to escape
  • repeat as necessary until little or no steam is left
  • You can now season and flavour them as you wnat to. The following suggestions I hope will spark many other ideas for you . . .

    • freshly ground sea salt, white pepper and nutmeg
    • egg yolks
    • cream, crème fraiche or plain yoghurt
    • butter or margarine
    • for a lower cholesterol level. in place of butter try a good olive oil (virgin or extra virgin)
    • diced capsicum, spring onion and ham
    • caramelised sliced onions
    • chargrilled capsicum - diced or puréed
    • roasted garlic
    • sundried tomatoes and diced olives
    • your favourite grated cheese, crumbled fetta or chopped brie / camembert
    • fresh cranberries or redcurrants
    • lightly toasted sliced almonds or other nuts
    • your favourite fresh chopped herb - basil, mint, coriander etc
    • chopped tinned beetroot (drain and rinse first) - the juice should be retained, simmered until reduced by three-quarters and served as a sauce
    • Tahiti, pesto or your favourite potato chip/crisps dip


    • No particular recipe


    Food and Cooking Tips
    from professional
    Chef Tallyrand


    Born and raised in Plymouth, Tallyrand started his initial training as a chef at Plymouth College of Further Education. It was here that he was to learn his love, his passion for food and the culinary arts. From here he headed to Germany to complete his apprenticeship as Commis de Gardemanger.

    Germany gave him his first taste of cooking for the rich and famous, as half way through his first year, along with the Sous Chef and a Chef de Partie, he was whisked off to Cologne to help prepare meals for a political conference, where amongst other dignitaries they cooked for Mr Brehznev, the then powerful Russian leader. This was to prove to be just one of the many celebrities he was to cook for or get to know over the years . . .

    If you would like to find out more why not visit Tallyrand's own web site www.tallyrand.info (link in main menu)

    Email Hub-UK : info@hub-uk.com