Don’s TIPS for Top Potatoes

Don Hancey is one of WA’s best known chefs and supporters of local produce. In fact, Don is so passionate about local food, he has been named WA Food Ambassador and regularly promotes everything from seafood to wine across the globe. Lucky for us, Don also love his spuds, and was happy to contribute some awesome tips in this article.

I LOVE POTATOES. In fact potatoes are one of my 5 most favourite foods to eat, along with seafood, vegetables, olive oil and fruits.  Creamy buttery mash potato to me is one of life’s greatest and “real food” dishes to eat.

My MOST favourite way to eat mashed potatoes as a snack is a dollop of warm creamy mash on crisp cos or iceberg lettuce with grated parmesan.

Potatoes are also a great accompaniment to grilled fish, sausages and gravy (bangers and mash) and make awesome “fillers”  for croquettes and let’s not forget the simple joy of baked stuffed potatoes.

When done right, potatoes are the single most delicious food on the planet!

The Health benefits of the humble potato  are outstanding, they are a great source of fibre, and are virtually fat free. Potatoes have more Vitamin C than blueberries, more potassium than a banana and more fibre than apples.

The Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C  It  was the Spanish Conquistadors after conquering Peru in 1536 who gave it the name “patata” and traded it around the world. Today the potato is the fifth most important crop worldwide, after wheat, corn, rice and sugar cane.

Each day over billion people eat at least one potato! 

Western Australia has an amazing range of potato varieties available with more new varieties being grown every year.  There are several types that are always available – white, red, cream and also Royal Blues that can be used as an all-purpose potato.

My basic rules are that:

  • white potatoes are best for – boiling, mashing, steaming, roasting, potato soups, and in crock pot or casseroles
  • red potatoes are best for – potato salad, also good for boiling, mashing, steaming and  roasting
  • cream variety’s are also picking up momentum in the market and they are so versatile – perfect for chips, bake and mash and make a very tasty potato salad

If you want to store potatoes then the best thing is to keep them in a cool dark place. 

If the weather is really warm, you can store them in the fridge for a few days as well. 

The best quality of potatoes are the new-season potatoes.

To Make Potato Wedges:

Scrub potatoes and cut into bite-size wedges. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the potatoes into one layer on your baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes until browned and tender when pierced with a fork. Serve while hot.

Do you air-fry? 

Home air-fry machines are all the rage at moment as they minimise frying oil in the process of cooking chips. I recommend soaking your peeled, washed and cut potatoes in cold water overnight removes excess potato starch, which prevents fries from sticking together and helps achieve maximum crispness.

Finally, if you LOVE potatoes as much as I do, why not not try something new and head to a shop that specifically tells you what type of potato is available and learn what they are best used for.