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On the Menu: All Hail the Humble Potato

I had the very good fortune to accompany the Idaho Potato Commission on a two-day tour of the Fall 2021 potato harvest where in any given year, about 13.5 billion pounds of potatoes are pulled from the 315,000 dedicated acres in that state. That’s about a third of the overall potato production in the U.S.

Potatoes, of course, are a catering staple. They hold well and reheat beautifully, can be adapted to nearly any kind of cuisine, are inexpensive, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and can be starters, entrees—desserts, even! 

Create cotija potato nests with peeled and shredded Yukon Gold potatoes, then fill with micro greens, smoked salmon, and creamy chipotle dressing. Source: Ericka Sanchez, Nibbles and Feasts

They can be served cold, hot, baked, boiled, roasted, mashed, fried, sliced, and riced. Satisfying and fulfilling, potatoes ring about every dinner bell possible in the catering world.

The next time you pick up a potato, please think about what a difficult growing season we had in 2021: rising temperatures, wildfires, debilitating wind, drought…and yet, our farming community worked hard to bring us beautiful, viable crops. It’s a true miracle to watch food come straight from the ground, in abundance, in the direst of conditions—and then cleaned, packaged, and shipped to every corner of the world.

And so, in celebration of the potato in all iterations, please consider putting one of these tasty treats on your next catering menu.

All recipes and photos courtesy of Idaho Potato Commission and each individual recipe author.

How to Open a Baked Potato

According to Savannah Hoff, daughter of fourth generation Idaho potato farmer, James Hoff, the “very critical step” in serving a baked potato is to first give it a little “massage,” to make the inside “nice and fluffy.” Demonstrating, she noted that you should be able to feel the potato break down a little bit inside, but not break open. 

Next, zig zag with a fork across the top, not too deep—just enough to pierce the skin—and then follow those edges with a knife to just barely break those fork lines open. “And then, when the guest pops the potato open, a fluffy interior is revealed.”

Potato Roulade

Recipe author: David Knight, Kilted Chef LLC 


6 large Idaho® Russet potatoes, peeled
6 ea. duck legs
3 lbs duck fat
18 oz (by weight) dried sour cherries
8 oz (by weight) dried black currants
18 fluid oz brandy
12 oz (by weight) dried morel mushrooms
10 oz butter
3 lbs baby spinach, washed
12 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs fresh microgreens

Method for Potato ‘Tube’

  1. Use a spiral cutter to spin the potatoes to create the long strands needed to form the tube. Using a 12” length of aluminum foil, fold it lengthwise until it is 6” wide.
  2. Wrap the 12” x 6” piece of aluminum foil around a cardboard tube from a paper towel roll and paper clip the ends of the foil so it doesn’t unravel.
  3. Loosely wrap the long strands of potato around the foil then slide the foil off the cardboard tube being careful not to crush the foil form.
  4. Fry the potato tube while wrapped around the foil in 325°F oil until lightly golden, making sure to turn the potato tube while frying so it colors evenly.
  5. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain.
  6. Remove the paper clips off the ends of the foil and collapse the foil to remove from inside the potato tube. 

Method for Duck Confit

  1. Pat the duck legs dry with paper towels.
  2. Prick the skin all over with the tip of a knife. This allows the underlying fat to run out when heated.
  3. Liberally salt the duck legs all over, cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  4. Wipe the excess salt with a paper towel and place the duck legs in a casserole dish just big enough to hold the legs.
  5. Spoon the solid duck fat evenly over the top of the duck legs. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and place in a cold oven.
  6. Turn the oven on to 285°F. Do not preheat the oven. Let the legs slowly warm up with the oven.
  7. After one hour remove the foil and cook for one hour more. Remove from the oven. Let cool for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the legs from the fat and remove the skins. The skins can be crisped in the oven and eaten as a chip.
  9. The leftover fat will be used to sauté the spinach and morel mushrooms. Pick the meat off the legs and lightly shred. 

Method for Brandied Cherries and Black Currants

Soak the cherries and currants in the brandy covered overnight at room temperature.

Method for Morel Mushrooms

  1. Gently rehydrate mushrooms with 2 oz of water.
  2. Remove the mushrooms from the water before they become too soft.
  3. Rough chop the mushrooms after they are rehydrated.


  1. Heat 6 oz of butter in a large sauté pan over medium high heat until the butter foams but is not brown.
  2. Add the garlic and spinach. Sauté until all the spinach is wilted.
  3. Place the spinach/garlic on a paper towel to drain.
  4. Heat 4 oz of butter in the same pan and add the duck confit.
  5. Sauté to reheat the duck and add a little color, add the spinach back to the pan and toss with the duck. Add the mushroom and sauté over a medium flame for one minute. Remove all the ingredients from the pan.
  6. Add the cherry/currants in brandy off the flame and return the sauté pan to the flame. The brandy may flambé so be careful. It’s not a bad thing if it does.
  7. Reduce any liquids until they are almost all gone. Add the duck/garlic spinach/mushroom mix back to the pan and combine with the cherry/currants.
  8. Toss in the fresh microgreens. Spoon the mixture into the Potato Tube.
  9. Use the reduced liquid in the pan to sauce the plate.

Curried Potato Pot Stickers

Yield: 50 pot stickers

Recipe author: Lisa Lin, Healthy Nibbles and Bits


1 lb Idaho® Russet potatoes, peeled and diced to one-inch chunks
1½ T olive oil
1 1/3 cups diced yellow onion
2 tsp minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
¾ tsp salt
¾ cup diced red bell pepper (about ½ medium pepper)
¾ cup peas (fresh or frozen)
2 stalks of scallions (green onion), minced
1½ tsp curry powder
About 50 pot sticker or dumpling wrappers


  1. Boil potatoes in a pot with a generous pinch of salt. Cook until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Drain water and mash potatoes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Heat a small pan with 1½ T of oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about two minutes. Add ginger, garlic, and a pinch of salt, and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Mix in diced red pepper and cook for two minutes. Add peas and scallions and cook for one minute. Turn off heat.
  3. Mix mashed potatoes, curry powder, and vegetables. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. 
  4. Fill a small bowl with water. You’ll use this to help seal the pot stickers.
  5. Dip wrapper into water, about ¼ to ½ inch deep. Circle wrapper around so that the edges are moist. Lay wrapper on your left hand, wet side away from you. Add about a spoonful of filling. Using your right hand, start sealing dumpling by pinching wrapper together. Using your index fingers, pinch moistened side into a pleat and press down to seal. Continue until the entire dumpling is pleated and sealed.
  6. To cook them, heat a large sauté pan with a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, line the pot stickers in the pan, bottom side down. Have the lid of your pan ready for the next step. Let the pot stickers fry for about a minute, then pour about ¼ cup of water in the pan. The oil will start splattering, so cover pan immediately with the lid. Cook for about five minutes. Make sure that your wrapper fully cooks. Uncover lid and cook for another minute, until the bottoms of the dumplings are deep golden brown.
  7. Plate and serve pot stickers with your favorite dipping sauce.


Idaho® Russet potatoes  make a beautiful and tasty dumpling when filled with goat cheese and shiitake mushroom ragout. Source: Norbert Bomm, Morrison Management Specialists

Vanilla Bean & Purple Peruvian Potato Ice Cream with Cinnamon Sugar Potato Chips

Recipe author: Greg Hardesty, Recess and Room Four

Ingredients for Ice Cream

2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Pinch of salt
¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons, divided, sugar
9 egg yolks
3 cups Purple Peruvian potato puree (below)
 Idaho® Russet potato, peeled and thinly sliced on mandolin
1 Idaho® purple Peruvian potato, peeled and thinly sliced on mandolin
3 cups peanut oil for frying
1 T cinnamon, ground
1 cup whipped cream, lightly sweetened (optional)

Ingredients for Purple Peruvian Potato Puree 

1 5 to 20 Idaho® purple Peruvian potatoes, medium, unpeeled
Pinch of salt
½ cups sugar

Method for Ice Cream

  1. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans with a paring knife. Heat milk, cream, salt, ¾ cups sugar and vanilla beans (seeds and pod) in a sauce pan. Cover, remove from heat, and let steep for 10 minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together egg yolks. Gradually pour some of the milk mixture into the yolk, whisking constantly. Scrapes warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan. Add potato purée and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until thick and mixture coats the back of the spoon. Strain potato custard through a fine-mesh strainer and cool completely. Reserve ¼ cup custard for garnish.
  3. Freeze remaining custard in your ice cream maker according to manufactures instructions.

Method for Chips

  1. Rinse potato slices until water runs clear. Squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
  2. Heat oil in a saucepan to 300 degrees F. Fry potatoes until golden brown and crisp. Drain well and toss in a bowl with 2 T sugar and cinnamon while still warm. Set aside to cool.

Method for Purple Peruvian Potato Puree

  1. Scrub clean potatoes. Cover potatoes with water and add salt and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are soft. Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Push potato pulp through a mesh strainer and reserve.


Put a scoop of ice cream into four dessert bowls. Drizzle with reserved purple custard and place whipped cream and crispy cinnamon potatoes around the ice cream. Serve immediately.

“On a stick” potato lollipops are taken a step further with a dipping sauce trio of bacon-mustard aioli, cheddar béchamel, and arugula cream sauces. Small, round cookie cutters keep the slices perfect. Be sure to soak cut potatoes briefly in cool water to prevent them from discoloring. Source: Bart Hosmer 

When serving potato vodka or a Bloody Mary shot, what better way to make the experience more delightful than using colorful fingerlings as the vessel? Add potatoes to boiling water and cook until a toothpick may be inserted into each potato with little force, 12 to 15 minutes. Potatoes should be tender but still firm to the touch. Chill in ice bath.

Trim each potato to create a flat bottom. Cut off top, leaving at least 2 inches of potato. Using a sharp paring knife, carve out interior of each potato to create a “shot glass.” Carefully remove interior of potato to leave a wall of at least 1⁄8 inch. Thoroughly chill potato “shot glasses” in airtight container.

Source: Joy Perrine, Equus & Jack’s Lounge 


Potato Gnocci

Recipe author: Brian Moses, Launderette 

Ingredients for Potato Gnocchi

Yield: 12 servings (about 150 gnocchi)

4 lbs Idaho® Russet potatoes, scrubbed, not peeled
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 T olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
Semolina flour for dusting

Ingredients for Pea Tendril & Spinach Purée 

Yield 3 cups (24 oz) use ¼ cup per serving
12 oz fresh pea tendrils, lightly packed
6 oz fresh spinach, lightly packed
¼ cup canola oil
2 tsp kosher salt

Sauce per serving

2 T butter
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp shallot, minced
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup pea tendril and spinach purée
1 cup snap peas, trimmed
½ cup fresh green peas, shelled


Shaved Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil

Method for Gnocchi

  1. Prick each potato once or twice with the tip of a knife. Place on a tray or on oven rack and bake at 400°F until centers are soft, 45 to 60 minutes. Remove skins while warm.
  2. Working quickly with warm potatoes, push through a ricer or food mill into a large bowl or onto a lightly floured work surface.
  3. Whisk together eggs, yolks, and oils in a small bowl. Pour over potatoes and mix in with hands or large silicone spatula, while gradually adding about 2 cups flour, working just enough to form a soft dough. Do not over work.
  4. Before proceeding, test-cook a few gnocchi in boiling salted water. Allow to cook until they rise to the surface, usually three to four minutes. Cooked gnocchi should be light and pillowy. If too soft, work in a little more flour to the remaining dough before proceeding.
  5. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Keep the dough covered while rolling gnocchi.
  6. Working on a flour-dusted work surface, roll one piece of dough into a rope ½- to ¾-inch diameter. Using a floured bench scraper, cut into one-inch pieces. If desired, roll each piece on the back of a fork to make indent lines.
  7. Place rolled gnocchi on semolina flour-dusted sheet pan while preparing remaining gnocchi. Cover tightly with plastic if not using immediately. May be refrigerated up to one day but best to use immediately.
  8. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, or cooking per serving, drop the gnocchi into boiling water and cook as directed above. Remove from water with a slotted spoon or large mesh sieve. Serve immediately or transfer to a sheet pan to cool.

If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate. Reheat in a skillet with butter until lightly browned.

Method for Pea Tendril & Spinach Purée

  1. Blanch pea tendrils and spinach in boiling salted water for three minutes. Drain and transfer to an ice water bath. When cool, drain well.
  2. Blend with oil and salt in a blender or processor until smooth. Store refrigerated in a covered container for up to three days.

Sauce per serving, à la minute

  1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat; sauté garlic and shallot until softened.
  2. Add wine and simmer until reduced by about half.
  3. Stir in ¼ cup Pea Tendril Purée, peas, and snap peas. Cook just until peas are tender-crisp, adding a few tsp of hot gnocchi water if needed to thin sauce.
  4. Spoon sauce over hot boiled or browned gnocchi. Garnish with Parmesan, fresh black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Tater tots fried up in duck fat and paired with a delicious green goddess dressing elevate the potato to new heights of deliciousness. As always, other fats can be used to fry the tots. Keep it vegetarian with canola oil; bacon or pork fat provides a saltiness that will keep clients salivating. Source: Matt Broussard, A Cook Named Matt

Chocolate potato donuts are nestled in a scoop of crème anglaise. Source: John Gorham, Toro Bravo

Shepard’s Pie spoonfuls use dehydrated potato flakes for ease in preparation. Source: Erika Penzer Kerekes, In Erikas Kitchen

Mashed Potato Bar?

Honestly, you might be tired of proposing it, but clients are still crazy about the mashed potato and all its delicious topping possibilities. Here are some topping ideas from Erica Moore of Bonne Bouffe Catering, Los Angeles, CA that could take a potato bar from appetizer to hearty meal.

  • Sour cream
  • Chopped scallions
  • Black caviar
  • Sautéed wild mushrooms
  • Olive tapenade
  • Crumbled hickory bacon
  • Finely shredded cheese
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Garlic sautéed rock shrimp
  • Whipped butter
  • Sautéed turkey sausage with cranberries and sage
  • Hearty basil pesto
  • Grilled zucchini and summer squash
  • Caramelized onions
  • Spicy duck sausage with cilantro and spices
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Freshly grated parmesan
  • Chopped tomato salsa with capers, basil, and cilantro
  • Crumbled gorgonzola
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Julienne of rosemary chicken
  • Caramelized jewel-colored peppers
  • Sweet Italian chicken sausage
  • Crisp potato ribbons
  • Roasted Japanese eggplant slivers
  • Onion confit
  • Poached lobster
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Jalapenos, sliced
  • Norwegian smoked salmon
  • Hearts of palm
  • Grilled tri-tip sliced thin
  • Horseradish crème
  • Onion crisps
  • Country gravy
  • Fresh corn
  • Roasted & diced poblanos

Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the Director of Community & Content Strategy for Informa Connect | Catersource and Special Events magazines, including all digital content for both websites and e-newsletter products. She also vets, hires, guides and coordinates all live education at Catersource Conference & Tradeshow, Art of Catering Food, Leading Caterers of America Executive Summit, and bridge content at The Special Event.