Potatoes are a vegetable that demonstrates a lot of versatility — smashed potatoes, french fries, baked potatoes, hash browns. And when it comes to making healthy but delicious meals with minimal fuss, pan-cooked potatoes are a good recipe to have in your repertoire.
Why Make Potatoes?
Potatoes are an excellent addition to your diet because they provide complex carbohydrates for energy as well as many vitamins and minerals. According to the USDA, a 5.3-ounce russet potato has 110 calories with 3 grams of protein and 26 grams of carbohydrates, 2 of which are fiber.
Many experts are quick to point out the benefits of consuming potatoes. A June 2016 review published in Critical Reviews in Food and Science Nutrition looked at several aspects of the potato's nutritional profile, noting that it is rich in vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and antioxidants.
Similarly, an article published in November 2018 in Nutrients praised the potato for its high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, folate, iron and fiber, furthermore noting that potatoes are more satiating than other starchy foods like pasta or rice and that people who opt for potatoes as part of their meal rather than other starches end up consuming fewer calories.
But both expert perspectives pointed out that cooking affects the nutritional value of potatoes. According to Nutrients, boiling can deplete the potato of its water-soluble vitamins and minerals whereas frying can increase the amount of resistant starch. Critical Reviews in Food and Science Nutrition warns that cooking at especially high temperatures can produce acrylamide, a possible carcinogen.
Read more: Nutrients in Water After Boiling Vegetables
Making Pan-Cooked Potatoes
Knowing that frying will retain a potato's vitamins and minerals while increasing its resistant starch, you might be inclined to try cooking potatoes on the stove with a frying pan. What you'll be pleased to find is that pan-cooked potatoes are an easy technique to master, and you can soon spread out to trying many of the easy stovetop potato recipes that are out there.
Utah State University explains that using a skillet to cook, such as you would for cooking potatoes on the stove, is a great option for quick and healthy meals. There are many skillets out there for you to choose from for making your pan-cooked potatoes.
Stainless steel is durable and doesn't react to acidic foods the way other metals would. Plus it's easy to clean, so it's the material of choice for Utah State University. The runner-up is the cast-iron skillet, which is slightly less expensive but more difficult to use because of its heavy weight and the maintenance required to keep it seasoned.
You should also consider what material you'll use to move your pan-cooked potatoes around when they're sizzling away on the stovetop. Utah State University recommends a wooden spoon or spatula rather than their metal counterparts, which could potentially scratch the frying pan.
Easy Stovetop Potato Recipes
When you're cooking potatoes on the stove, you might want to keep it simple and focus solely on the potatoes, or you could add vegetables and meat to your dish to make it a full meal. There are plenty of easy stovetop potato recipes out there to provide you with ideas.
Not all the recipes encourage you to cook the potatoes entirely in the pan. Tufts University and California Department of Public Health direct people to boil potatoes in water until nearly tender (about 10 or 15 minutes) before draining them and then sautéing them in oil on the stovetop with other ingredients like meat, vegetables and spices.
Similarly, USDA Choose My Plate suggests microwaving potatoes before adding them to the skillet with chicken and asparagus.
However, this Spicy Potato, Red Pepper and Chicken Sausage Skillet for Two cooks the potatoes from their raw form to their finished form entirely in the stovetop pan. It takes only medium-high heat with oil for about 10 minutes. Afterward, you add the chicken, vegetables and other seasonings and cook for another five minutes until the potatoes are browned.
Once you master the art of making pan-cooked potatoes, you'll want to start using them as the base of countless meals. And considering how nutritious potatoes are, why wouldn't you?
- Utah State University Extension: “Skillet Cooking”
- Critical Reviews in Food and Science Nutrition: “Potato Production, Usage, and Nutrition”
- Nutrients: “Starchy Carbohydrates in a Healthy Diet: The Role of the Humble Potato”
- USDA: "Russet Potato"
- Tufts University: “Crispy Sauteed Potatoes With Rosemary”
- California Department of Public Health: “Potato Sauté with Onions and Bell Peppers”
- USDA What’s Cooking?: “Tuscan Potato Skillet”