Helpful Holiday Hints for Perfect Potato Preparation

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When it comes time for preparing one of the center attractions for your holiday meal (besides your family's traditional and beloved main course), potatoes rank right up there as an absolute given. Who better than the wives of Idaho Potato Commissioners to provide tips to ensure your 2004 holiday potato preparations are as flawless, easy and delicious as possible. (And, you are a step ahead when you start with the most consistently shaped and flavorful potatoes out there!)

These ladies love Idaho Potatoes and they were delighted to share some of their favorite recipes too. Along with a traditional mashed potato recipe and other family favorites, there are some very clever ideas on how to save valuable stove space during the holiday meal preparation, as well as quick and easy leftover dishes. (See separate recipes inside this press kit.)

Here are the tips, straight from the experts:
Maximize Stove Top Space Prepare mashed Idaho Potatoes earlier in the day. Spoon potatoes in a crockpot (low setting) - where they can "warm" for up to two hours without losing any of the flavor or fluffy texture that Idaho Potatoes are famous for. With burners at a premium, this works wonders.

Time Saving Tip Cut your Idaho Potato baking time by a third! Simply run a metal skewer from end to end through the length of the potato. You can probably get two medium potatoes per skewer. Bake at 450 degrees F - but instead of 50 minutes, potatoes should be fork tender in 30 minutes.

Hot Potatoes! Do not wrap an Idaho Potato in foil for baking - this steams the potato. However, after the potato is completely baked, you can wrap in foil or place in a bread warmer to keep 'em piping hot.

Keep Trim! When preparing mashed Idaho Potatoes, add a bouillon cube to the boiling water. Save the liquid and add it as needed when mashing. This enhances the flavor of the potato, eliminating the need for sour cream or butter.

Tomorrow's Turkey Casserole When putting away Thanksgiving leftovers, prepare Friday's supper. In an ovenproof casserole, line the bottom of the dish with pieces of turkey for the first layer. Spread dressing to cover turkey; add additional layers of vegetables and cranberries. Top with mashed Idaho Potatoes and spoon on the gravy. Refrigerate 'til next day. Bake in 350 degree F oven for 45 - 55 minutes or until warmed all the way through.

No Small Potatoes It's been years since you've tasted instant mashed Idaho Potatoes. Nowadays, their taste and texture is as superb as fresh. Keep several boxes on hand (they're shelf stable in the pantry) for unexpected holiday guests.

Creole Style Add great flavor to baked Idaho Potatoes without adding fat. Gently coat the outside of a scrubbed, pierced potato with a little olive oil. Roll in Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (or similar Creole rub) and bake at 450 degrees F for approximately 50 minutes or until fork tender.

Preparation Tip Slice potatoes and keep them in a bowl of water until you are ready to cook. To prevent them from turning brown, add 2 tablespoons lemon juice for each quart of water. Rinse potatoes and pat dry before cooking.

Idaho Potato Peeling Pointer Ever notice that a new potato peeler is often difficult to use? That's because a potato peeler "softens up" with use. The high solids in the Idaho Potato reacts with the peeling blade, making the blade sharper with each potato peeled. The peeler handle also becomes more flexible with use. Idaho Potatoes have a long, smooth shape, so the peeling action is even. As the peeler handle loosens, it can more cleanly slice the surface of the potato.