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Sherrie Norris Lovin Spoonful Cooking Column: It’s Tater Diggin’ Time in These Hills

By Sherrie Norris

By the looks of local fields — and current photos showing up on social media sites — this year’s potato crop is a banner one, for sure.

Beautiful brown-skinned potatoes of all sizes are being dug from the ground by the bushel right about now. 

We have been enjoying the “fruit” of our neighbors’ labors this year, and thanks to some special friends on the other side of town, we’re lovin’ us some taters. And, yes, those green-thumb friends of ours are still keeping us supplied with big, beautiful tomatoes. How blessed we are!

Autumn and potatoes go hand-in-hand in these hills; as America’s favorite vegetable — and the most widely grown of all — potatoes have long been a staple the world over.  A little digging (pardon the pun) reveals that more than 1 million acres of potatoes are planted and harvested each year in the US, alone. 

I’ll spare you some of the other trivia I discovered, except for the “fact” that there are now two national potato days — August 19 and October 27. We’ll split the difference and uncover a few easy recipes in September to celebrate one of the easiest to grow, tastiest veggies known to man — and woman.

Simple Scalloped Potatoes

3 lbs. (about 10 cups) potatoes, thinly sliced 

3 cups heavy whipping cream

1 ½  tsp. salt

½  tsp. pepper

1 tsp. minced thyme, optional

Minced fresh parsley, optional

 Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine cream, salt, pepper and thyme, if using.

Arrange potatoes in a greased 13×9-in. baking dish. Pour cream mixture over top. Bake, uncovered until potatoes are tender and top is lightly browned, 45-55 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with parsley.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

 6 medium potatoes, baked

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1 lb. sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled

3 cups sour cream

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. Cube potatoes into 1-in. pieces. Place half of them in a large greased baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the salt, pepper and bacon. Top with half of the sour cream and cheeses. Repeat layers. Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes or until cheese has melted. Sprinkle with onions.

Crispy Roasted Potatoes

4 lbs. potatoes,  cut and chunked 

Salt and pepper 

½ tsp. baking soda

5 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. rosemary

3  garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. lemon zest

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel (if desired) and chunk potatoes;  soak in water, drain and rinse. Heat 2 qt. water in a large pot over high heat until water begins to boil. Add 2 Tbsp. salt, baking soda, and potatoes; stir.

Return to a boil, reduce to simmer; cook about 15 minutes or until fork-tender. 

In the meantime, combine olive oil, rosemary, garlic, and a little black pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring about 3 minutes, or until  garlic starts to turn light brown. 

When potatoes are cooked, drain well. Transfer to large bowl and mix in the oil and seasonings; toss to coat, shaking bowl until potato chunks are coated.

Transfer potatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet, spread them out. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes or longer, releasing any stuck potatoes with thin metal spatula if needed; shake pan and turn potatoes. Continue roasting until potatoes are brown and crisp all over, turning and shaking them a few times during cooking.

Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and season with more salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Best served immediately.

Air Fryer Potatoes

4 large potatoes

Olive oil-flavored cooking spray

1 tsp. sea salt

Minced fresh parsley, optional

Preheat air fryer to 360°. Cut potatoes into  thin slices. Transfer to a large bowl; add enough ice water to cover. Soak for 15 minutes; drain. Add more ice water and soak another 15 minutes.

 Drain potatoes; place on paper towels and pat dry. Spritz potatoes with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt. In batches, place potato slices in a single layer on greased tray in air-fryer basket. Cook until crisp and golden brown, 15-17 minutes, stirring and turning every 5-7 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with parsley.

Loaded Mashed Potatoes

1 ½  lbs. small potatoes

2 tsp. salt 

2 Tbsp. olive oil 

½  Tbsp. everything bagel seasoning 

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/3 cup sour cream

2 green onions, minced 

Cover potatoes with water in large pot; boil with salt for about 10 minutes or until very tender. Preheat oven to 425F. 

Line a large cookie/baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine olive oil and bagel seasoning in a small bowl.

Drain potatoes and cool for a few minutes, before transferring to the cookie sheet.  Mash each potato with a heavy-bottomed glass or a potato masher until nearly flat. Brush olive oil and seasoning over the top of the potatoes. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and crispy.

Remove potatoes from oven and top with shredded cheese. Return to the oven for a few more minutes, or just until cheese is melted.

Top each with a tiny dollop of sour cream and  sprinkle with green onions. Your family will love you!