I was recently having dinner with my better half when he noticed the steak he ordered came with fingerling potatoes.
"Which ones are those?" he asked.
"I think they're the small ones," I said.
And that's when it hit me that other than Russets and reds, I don't know a whole lot about the different kinds of potatoes out there ... and I certainly don't BUY them to cook with them. But, after a little research, I discovered the world is full of interesting potatoes! And lots of them are at your grocery store right now.
So, come with me as I share what I've learned about specialty potatoes (and by "specialty," I mean, "not Russet").
It's tempting to say that potatoes, like America, are Red, White and Blue ... but Yellow, Red and Purple are more accurate descriptions.
Yellow Potatoes are most familiar, so let's start there.
Fingerling: As the name implies, the fingerling potato is a small potato roughly the shape of a finger (but a fat finger). Because they are so small, they cook faster than other potato. It's best served in a side like potato salad.
Good recipe: Dill Fingerling Potatoes
Yellow Finn: A good all-purpose potato, it looks like a rounder Russet.
Good recipe: Yellow Finn Potato Gnocchi
Yukon Gold: Similar to the Yellow Finn, Yukon Gold potatoes are slightly larger and less sweet. They are best for boiling or baking.
Good recipe: Yukon Gold Potatoes, Jacques Pepin Style.
Red Skinned Potato: A simple name for a simple potato, easily identified by its red skin. These are tiny suckers that hold their shape well -- think cutting and baking as a side dish or using to jazz up a potato salad.
Good recipe: Red Skinned Potato Salad.
Oca Potato: The Oca potato may be harder to find, but once you do, you can't miss it -- it sort of looks like a little red pine cone. It can be prepared in a variety of ways.
Good recipe: Oca and Fingerling Roasted Potato Medley.
Purple Potato: Another good all-purpose potato, the purple flesh of these babies will add some vibrancy to standard potato dishes.
Good recipe: Fork-Crushed Purple Potatoes.
Caribe Potato: Purple on the outside, white on the inside. Good for baking, boiling and frying.
Good recipe: Kevin Johnson Grange Hall Beet and Potato Latkes.
Also: New Potatoes are not a separate, but rather a younger version of potato varieties that is harvested before maturity. Doing so yields a potato ideal for boiling and roasting because it is so small.
Good recipe: Grilled New Potato Salad with Peppers and Onions.
Image via La Grande Farmers' Market/Flickr