Tough Fingers

I hear that blogging is supposed to be short and sweet. Simple things. How about some cooking techniques?

Potatoes, for salad. Everybody fucks this up. I have too. Russet potatoes are the best for potato salad, Cook’s Illustrated says so. Problematically, Russets tend to go from rock hard to barely suitable for mash in seconds, and they all cook at different speeds depending on size, age, number or eyes, whether they’ve been pierced, and how close to the bottom of the pot they are.

The solution: slow. I cooked some Russets the other day, small ones, for almost three hours. I didn’t even let the water simmer after it first came up to boil. It was cool enough that I could put my fingertip into it for a second and a half, possibly two. Are my fingertips tougher than yours? Of course they are, but you can channel that toughness by looking at my Twitter profile.


  1. Scrub some skin-on Russet potatoes and put them in a big enough pot.
  2. Cover them with cold water.
  3. Salt the ever-loving-fuck out of that cold water. It should, as a dickhead chef once told me, “taste like the sea.”
  4. Bring them to quick a boil.
  5. Turn the heat down immediately, so that the water doesn’t even move.
  6. Check the water after fifteen minutes or so to make sure that it’s at least uncomfortably hot.
  7. Check the potatoes every now and again for doneness (what an ugly-looking word, doneness!), preferably with a pointy chopstick or something that raw potato would really give resistance to.
  8. Drain the potatoes and let them cool just enough to handle, before peeling with a paring knife. You should be able to just slide the knife under the skin and tear it away from the flesh.
  9. Cut the potatoes however you like, then toss them in the acidic element (vinegar, citrus) of your dressing while they’re still warm.

That last step makes the acidity soak deep into the potato so that it doesn’t just taste like potato sitting in a dressing bath.

Clever as fuck.

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