21 February 2011

Potatoes in a jiffy

Last week I went over to the Ed discount grocery store in Saint-Aignan to pick up a few things, and I came back with a sack of potatoes. They were on sale at half the regular price, and they looked like nice spuds.

For these 2.2 lbs. of potatoes, cook them right in the bag
in the microwave oven. Serves 3 or 4.

I grabbed a bag and put it in the cart, without thinking about it too much — except to wonder if the price posted above the bin, 1.79 €, was the sale price, or if the sale price would be 50% of that. They were 89 cents (eurocents, of course) for the kilogram.

Microwave cooking instructions, in many languages.

When I got home, I examined the bag. The instructions say to cook the potatoes right in the cellophane package. "Stand the bag up in the microwave oven," it says, " without opening or piercing it. Cook at 750W for 15 minutes."

And don't peel them — savor them with the skin on.

That's a new one on me. The bag also says to eat the potatoes with their skins left on. I don't know a lot of French people who do that. I remember the members of a family I used to visit often sitting around the dinner table carefully peeling little potatoes that were brought out, cooked, with the skins still on. They thought it was strange that I ate them without peeling them.

They're nice potatoes of a variety called Annabelle.
And yes, that's an egg. I'm going to make a bowl of
mayonnaise to eat with the potatoes.

I obviously decided not to cook the potatoes in the bag. First of all, my microwave oven doesn't have a 750W setting — it has 900W, 600W, 440W, and 100W. Second of all, I wanted to wash them before cooking them. But we will eat them skins and all.


  1. I think I would have washed them first, too. I wash everything, just in case.
    We have been watching Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals on the telly and he recently did mashed potatoes with the skins on. They weren't perfectly creamed, more like smashed. We tried them and they were delicious. Very rustic.

  2. I almost never peel potatoes and always leave the skins on when I mash. Adds considerable flavour. I would have cooked those potatoes of Ken's in the bag without washing them with no qualms too.

  3. I was wondering about those potatoes. I saw them at a ski station small grocery and they looked like an easy way to prepare a raclette. But the apartment we were renting didn't have a microwave so I just had to get regular potatoes.

  4. Depends on whether you regard microwave as cooking. I prefer the old-fashioned way.

  5. I wasn't sure that I wanted to cook the whole kilo of potatoes, but I finally decided I do. I'm cooking them à l'anglaise — in a good quantity of boiling water — and with salt, bay leaves, and black peppercorns in the water.

    Here's link to a page about Annabelle potatoes. Waxy, yellow, firm-fleshed...

    John-san, yes, I do like to cook in the microwave. Heat applied judiciously to food: cooking, no?

    Meredith, these potatoes are the kind of convenience food I like: natural. Nothing added. I also liked that they were half price!

    Jean, I'm like you — I prefer to wash and examine vegetables before I cook them. You never know what you'll find.

    But Susan, I wouldn't be shocked and I would gladly eat the potatoes cooked your way too.

  6. Ha, do you know I never thought about it, but it's true, the French tend to eat potatoes peeled. The only exception I can remember is when we had a cheese and meat plate that came with two whole boiled potatoes. Which may be the most unappetizing-looking thing ever.

  7. Where did you have that cheese and meat plate? In France? It doesn't sound very French. Should have been « morceau de fromage et pièce de viande avec ses pommes de terre en robe des champs » non ? France is kind of a wide open place, I guess. You never know what you might find on your plate!

  8. I remember watching two (French) people at lunch in Provence with unpeeled boiled baby potatoes in their nicoise salads. It took them forever to delicately pick off every shred of skin and pile it neatly beside the plate before they ate a bite.

    I remember being surprised that the restaurant would serve them that way.

    I love potato skin on baked or roasted potatoes, but not so much when they are boiled.

  9. Hi Chris, that peeling potatoes thing is why I think it's interesting that the cook-in-the-bag instructions are urging people to eat the potatoes with the skins on. I think I like the skins on boiled poatoes better than on baked potatoes. Baby potatoes are just too much trouble to peel. Besides, the skin on little new potatoes is so delicate and thin...

  10. They look like a nice variety. What is that egg doing there in the upper left? Is it going to be part of the potato dish?

  11. There is getting to be a LOT of cook-in-the-bag things recently. We buy them occasionally. For the most part, they're pretty good and you don't really need to wash them.

  12. Ken, the ones I saw weren't half price,otherwise I would have tried them as you did. The day I was shopping it was cheaper to get bulk potatoes.

  13. Every time I visit your blog, I get hungry.

  14. cooking in plastic is not good for you.

  15. I have to agree with Anonymous. Plastic wrap under heat tends to break down, and the various chemicals released are really not things you want in a healthy diet, unless you're heavily into carcinogens.

    I like your boiling method--I'll include some bay leaf next time. Thanks for a good tip.

  16. First, the bag was not plastic, it was cellophane. Not that I know the difference as far as the dangers involved in using it for cooking go.

    I know that millions of people eat food cooked in plastic in microwave ovens all the time. It's also really dangerous to use a cell phone, they say; you'll get brain cancer. They used to say that aluminum pots and foil would give us all Alzheimer's disease.

    I agree, fundamentally, about cooking in plastic but I think there are worse things to eat (too much salt, too much sugar) than foods that have been in contact with plastics. Everything in moderation, and prepared carefully.

  17. Ken, I often cook potatoes in the microwave. No need for a special type. I currently have "Charlotte" in stock. It's just Paul and me, so frequently we only need two medium ones. I put them into a glass bowl, (I don't bothe to peel, and I cut them in half if I think they are big.) cover with cellophane or just another bowl inverted, and cook them on the high setting for about 2 min. per potato. I think you have to experiment to find the right timing.

  18. I do that too, Ellen. Some small potatoes in a bowl with a little water in the bottom, the bowl covered with plastic wrap or a plate, works really well. The microwave also cooks rice, millet, and polenta/grits really nicely. I use plastic wrap in the oven, but I'd rather not have it in direct contact with the food at those temperatures.


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