Meat and potatoes are a classic dinnertime duo, and stew is a hearty, easy way to combine the two ingredients. But for the tastiest results, you'll want to make certain to select the right potatoes to add to the stew pot.
This starchy vegetable is a good addition to stew for its filling qualities. "The idea that potatoes are unhealthy is a myth," Michele Sidorenkov, RDN and chef, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
"Spuds are full of slow-burning complex carbohydrates that can keep you full and satisfied for a longer amount of time." Plus, she notes, potatoes have far more potassium than a banana: A small banana (about 100 grams) has 362 milligrams of potassium whereas about a half-cup (100 grams) of red potatoes has 545 milligrams.
The Best Potatoes for Stew
All potatoes have different starch levels and textures, says Sidorenkov. Choosing the right potatoes for your stew is the first step to success.
Round red and white potatoes are relatively low in starch and hold their shape well. Their texture is ideal in soups, stews and casseroles. "I always prefer to cook [stew] with red or new potatoes — they're sweeter, cook faster and you can cook them with the skin on," says Palak Patel, a chef at the Institute of Culinary Education. Cooking potatoes in your stew will help thicken it, says Patel, as well as infuse the potatoes with the rich flavors of your stew.
As the potatoes boil, they'll release their starches, says Sidorenkov. "These leeched starches act as binders and thickeners, making them ideal for naturally thickening soups or stews," she notes.
Russet potatoes have the highest amount of starch, points out Sidorenkov. Patel warns against using this variety in stews. Russets' starchiness can lead to a gluey, unappealing texture in stews. "I use them for baked potatoes or French potatoes," she says.
Read more: Why Potatoes With More Color Are Healthiest
How to Cook Potatoes for Stew
Now that you've got your red and white potatoes on hand, find out the easiest way to cook your spuds for stew.
What You'll Need
- Red or white potatoes
- Vegetable brush
- Potato peeler or paring knife
How to Do It
- Wash your potatoes thoroughly and remove any bruises, eyes or other blemishes.
- Peel the potatoes with a potato peeler or knife. Use a light touch so you get the peel without removing too much of the actual potato. It is not necessary to peel red potatoes.
- Cut the potatoes into bite-sized chunks. Aim to cut all your potatoes to the same size so they take the same amount of time to cook, says Sidorenkov. Otherwise, you'll wind up with under- or over-cooked potatoes.
- Place the potato chunks in a colander and rinse them well under cool running water.
- About 20 to 30 minutes before you want to serve your stew, add your potatoes to the stew pot. Note that the bigger your potato chunks, the longer they'll take to cook.
- Stir the potatoes and check for doneness. Slice the potato with a butter knife to see if it's done, says Sidorenkov. "If the butter knife is able to make a clean slice all the way through without any resistance, then the potato is done."
- Once the potatoes are cooked through, serve the stew.
About half the fiber in a potato can be found in its skin, notes Sidorenkov. If you don't mind the texture of the skin, skip peeling the potatoes for more nutritional benefits.