Sous Vide Potatoes
When we returned from our fall Foodie trip to the Loire Valley, it was time to harvest my potatoes. This year my potato plants produced my best yield to date. My favorite variety is the “Pinto Gold” potato (bred by the University of Maine) which has a creamy yellow interior with a red skin featuring yellow splashes. I purchased a pint 3 years ago at a local gourmet shop and have been planting and eating from that pint each year since.
This years crop also included purple potatoes, red and gold fingerlings and some Yukon Golds. After I harvest them, the first thing I do is sort them by size into large, medium and small categories. From the medium pile, I choose 15 nice “egg size” potatoes of each variety to be my seed potatoes for next year.
I wrap the seed potatoes individually in newspaper and pack them into a cardboard box. I loosely close the box and store it in my basement (cool and dry environment) until next spring, when they will become my 2024 crop!
The small potatoes from my harvest range from pea size up to about 1 1/2-inch in size. I love cooking them whole and enjoying them as individuals to experience their unique characteristics. To bring out their true flavors, I like to cook the potatoes sous vide (see my blog “Sous Vide 101” to learn the basics). The potatoes are placed in heavy duty ziplock bags and cooked for 90 minutes in a circulating water bath set at 90-degrees C. or 194-degrees F.
I like to drizzle the potatoes with some extra virgin olive oil and season them with Kosher salt and pepper. Often, I will throw in an herb like rosemary or thyme and for a nice garlic accent, I will add a few cloves of Garlic Confit and garlic oil…never use raw garlic as it may contain botulism.
Preheat your circulating bath to 90-degrees C. and add the bagged potatoes. I use the displacement method to remove excess air from the ziplock bags. In this technique, you leave the bag partially unzipped and force the product below the surface which forces the air to go out the opening. Carefully maneuver the bag down (this is a hot bath, so use a kitchen spoon) forcing as much air to escape as possible and close the bag. Some air will be trapped around the potatoes, so it will be necessary to weigh the bag down with weights (I use salad plates) to keep it below the surface for even and thorough cooking. Alternatively, you can vacuum seal the potatoes if you have the equipment.
These smaller potatoes will cook in 90 minutes, but if you are using a larger size potato, you may need to extend the cooking time to 2 hours. When the time is up, remove the weights from the bath and remove the bags using a pair of tongs. The Sous Vide water temperature used for cooking potatoes and vegetables is much higher than the temperatures used to cook meats. Drain the potatoes in a colander and serve them as is, or brown them in a cast iron skillet, on a hot grill, or in a hot oven for some caramelized texture and flavor.
For Sous Vide mashed potatoes, peel (if you want) and dice the potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Place them in a heavy duty ziplock bag with some butter, heavy cream or milk, and season with Kosher salt and pepper. Other items can be added such as fresh or dried herbs, garlic confit, scallions, or chives. Or you can get really creative my adding seared wild mushrooms, chopped sun-dried tomatoes or goat cheese. Close the bags, displacing as much air as you can, and cook them at 90-degrees C. for 90 minutes. Remove the bags from the bath and strain through a colander reserving the liquid. Mash the potatoes in a bowl and add some of the liquid back until you achieve the consistency you are looking for.