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General Instructions.--The vegetable kingdom affords no food more wholesome, more easily prepared, or less expensive than the potato, yet, although this most useful vegetable is dressed almost every day, in almost every family-for one plate of potatoes that comes to table as it should, ten are spoiled.
Be careful in your choice of potatoes; no vegetable varies so much in color, size, shape, consistence and flavor.
Choose those of a large size, free from blemishes, and fresh, and buy them in the mould; they must not be wetted till they are cleaned to be cooked. Protect them from the air and frost by laying them in heaps in a cellar, covering them with mats or burying them in sand or in earth. The action of frost is most destructive, if it be considerable, the life of the vegetable is destroyed, and the potato speedily rots.
Potatoes boiled.--Wash them, but do not pare or cut them unless they are very large; fill a saucepan half full of potatoes of equal size (or make them so by dividing the larger ones), put to them as much cold water as will cover them about an inch: they are sooner boiled, and more savory than when drowned in water; most boiled things are spoiled by having too little water, but potatoes are often spoiled by too much; they must merely be covered, and a little allowed for waste in boiling) so that they may be just covered at the finish.
Set them on a moderate fire till they boil, then take them off, and set them by the side of the fire to simmer slowly till they are soft enough to admit a fork (place no dependence on the usual test of their skin cracking, which, if they are boiled fast, will happen to some potatoes when they are not half done, and the inside is quite hard); then pour the water off (if you let the potatoes remain in the water a moment after they are done enough they will become waxy and watery), uncover the saucepan, and set it at such a distance from the fire as will secure it from burning; their superfluous moisture will evaporate, and the potatoes will be perfectly dry and mealy.
You may afterwards place a napkin, folded up to the size of the saucepan's diameter, over the potatoes, to keep them hot and mealy till wanted.
This method of managing potatoes is in every respect equal to steaming them; and they are dressed in half the time.
There is such an infinite variety of sorts and sizes of potatoes, that it is impossible to say how long they will take to cook; the best way is to try them with a fork. Moderate sized potatoes will generally be done in fifteen or twenty minutes.
- Cold Potatoes Fried.--Put a bit of clean dripping into a fryingpan; when it is melted slice in your potatoes with a little pepper and salt, put them on the fire, keep stirring them; when they are quite hot they are ready.
- Potatoes Boiled and Broiled.--Dress your potatoes as before directed, and put them on a gridiron over a very clear and brisk fire; turn them till they are brown all over, and send them up dry, with melted butter in a cup.
- Potatoes Fried in Slices or Shavings.--Peel large potatoes, slice them about a quarter of an inch thick, or cut them in shavings round and round as you would peel a lemon. Dry them well in a clean cloth, and fry them in lard or dripping. Take care that your fat and frying pan are quite clean; put the pan on a quick fire, watch it, and as soon as the lard boils, and is still, put in the slices of potatoes, and keep moving them till they are crisp; take them up and lay them to drain on a sieve: send them up with a very little salt sprinkled over them.
Potatoes Fried Whole.-When nearly boiled enough, as directed in No. 1, put them into a stewpan with a bit of butter, or some nice clean beef drippings; shake them about often (for fear of burning them) till they are brown and crisp; drain them from the fat.
It will be an improvement to the three last receipts, previously to frying or broiling the potatoes, to flour them and dip them in the yolk of an egg, and then roll them in fine sifted breadcrumbs.
- Potatoes Mashed.--When your potatoes are thoroughly boiled, drain dry, pick out every speck, etc., and while hot rub them through a colander into a clean stewpan, to a pound of potatoes put about half an ounce of butter, and a tablespoonful of milk; do not make them too moist; mix them well together.
- Potatoes Mashed with Onions.--Prepare some boiled onions, by putting them through a sieve, and mix them with potatoes. In proportioning the onions to the potatoes, you will be guided by your wish to have more or less of their flavor.
- Potatoes Excaloped.--Mash potatoes as directed in No. 6, then butter some nice clean scallop shells, or pattypans; put in your potatoes, make them smooth at the top, cross a knife over them, strew a few fine bread-crumbs on them, sprinkle them with a paste brush with a few drops of melted butter, and then set them in a Dutch oven; when they are browned on the top, take them carefully out of the shells, and brown the other side.
- Colcannon.--Boil potatoes and greens, or spinach, separately; mash the potatoes, squeeze the greens dry, chop them quite fine, and mix them with the potatoes with a little butter, pepper and salt; put it into a mould, greasing it well first; let it stand in a hot oven for ten minutes
- Potatoes Roasted.--Wash and dry your potatoes (all of a size), and put them in a tin Dutch oven, or cheese toaster; take care not to put them too near the fire, or they will get burnt on the outside before they are warmed through. Large potatoes will require two hours to roast them.
- Potatoes Roasted under Meat.--Half boil large potatoes, drain the water from them, and put them into an earthern dish, or small tin pan under meat that is roasting, and baste them with some of the dripping when they are browsed on one side, turn them and brown the other; send them up round the meat, or in a small dish
- Potato Balls.--Mix mashed potatoes with the yolk of an egg, roll them into balls, flour them, or egg and breadcrumb them, and fry them in clean drippings, or brown them in a Dutch oven.
- Potato Snow.--The potatoes must be free from spots, and the whitest you can pick out; put them on in cold water; when they begin to crack strain the water from them, and put them into a dean stewpan by the side of the fire till they are quite dry and fall to pieces; rub them through a wire sieve on the dish they are to be sent up in and do not disturb them afterwards.
- Potato Pie.--Peel and slice your potatoes very thin into a pie dish. Between each layer of potatoes put a little chopped onion (three-quarters of an ounce of onion is sufficient for a pound of potatoes), between each layer sprinkle a little pepper and salt, put in a little water and cut about two ounces of fresh butter into little bits and lay it on The top, cover it close with puff paste. It will take about an hour and a half to bake it.