The CBC is reporting that Agriculture Canada has unveiled 15 new experimental potato varieties:
“This year we have 15 varieties to offer that represent a range of end uses from french fry to fresh market, to specialty markets such as very small potatoes, and we have one selection that has purple flesh,” said research scientist Agnes Murphy … The new varieties were created six years ago, but only now have they gone through enough testing by the department to include farmers and processors in the research … Farmers will be able to evaluate the new varieties for two years, after which the highest bidder will be allowed to do further testing, and seek an exclusive licence agreement … “It takes anywhere from 10 to 12 years to get from the very first initial cross to market,” said Murphy.
Driving along farm roads here in the midwest you’ll see countless signs in cornfields about what breed, brand and species of corn is being grown. In many cases, if the field is managed by a co-op or management company, you’ll learn that too. Corn is a big deal, from ethanol to beef feed to, of course, some better southern corn puddings.
It seems other produce just doesn’t get the respect corn does.
Since 1950, the PRC in Fredericton has produced 32 new varieties of potatoes, including the first “made-in-Canada potato” and the world’s second most popular French fry processing potato, the Shepody. A total of 62 varieties have been developed, released and registered for production across Canada by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada potato breeders, including the popular Yukon Gold developed jointly with the University of Guelph and the Ontario Department of Agriculture.
That’s right. These are the folks who gave us the infamous Yukon Gold potato. What, you thought it was a U.S. breed? It’s Yukon Gold, ok? In other words, any new species to come from the Potato Research Center in Fredericton will probably be quite welcome if and when it hits the markets.
Potatoes are a big deal here in southeastern Michigan. Down the road is a huge potato farm, Smith Bros., growers of a specific family-owned breed they’ve named Barbara Ann Potatoes. These are beautiful white potatoes, as big or bigger than Idaho bakers, definitely some of the best potatoes I’ve ever bought. But even the better Barbara Ann Potatoes are small compared to what the man in this pic was growing 50 years ago around these parts. This is Wayne Cousino, father of Chef Tad Cousino of the Frog Leg Inn. Chef Tad figures this photo was taken in about 1947 on the family potato farm here in Monroe County. Normally when you see a potato as big as the ones Poppa Cousino was holding here you’d wonder about the flavor. After all, when root vegetables get too large they seem to lose a certain intensity of flavors. Chef Tad’s told me the potatoes his dad was growing were incredibly good. They didn’t seem to lose flavor at all, even as large as they were.
There are a lot of different ways we like to enjoy potatoes, particularly in the mornings when I make skillet potatoes with chopped onion and green bell peppers. Here’s one of our favorite potato dishes for evening meals …
I have to be honest. This recipe was an accident. We just kept adding things yesterday evening until it tasted right. Once it dawned on us what had happened, we realized this was actually a pretty-darned easy recipe for some mighty-tasty Garlic Mashed Potatoes.
As an aspiring cook 15-year-old Adam wanted to be as involved as possible in his birthday last November. I handed him a 5 lb bag of Russet potatoes and had him scrub them down. These were boiled whole, peel intact. While the potatoes were boiling, I place a whole bulb of garlic on the cutting board and, pressing hard with the heel of my hand, separated it into its cloves. Adam then smashed each clove under the side of a chef’s knife and removed the papery silk. He then minced all the cloves. Pressing on the minced garlic with the side of the blade again, it took a while for him to turn it all into a paste but after a while, it worked.
Once the potatoes were fork-tender, they were drained and returned to the pot. Adam mashed them with a hand masher. I then added one stick of unsalted butter and the garlic paste. Adam used the electric mixer to whip everything together. I added a pint of heavy whipping cream and he mixed that in as well. We then added salt and pepper to taste.
The picture above looks like Butter Pecan Ice Cream, which is the look and texture you’re going for here. Everyone loved them! Each of the ingredients is a package from the grocer so no measuring is required.