PRODUCE AISLE load it up
First, it was loaded baked potatoes, an initial play on the steakhouse menu of the 1960s. After that, Don Odiorne, vice president of foodservice for the Idaho Potato Commission,
Eagle, Idaho, started seeing loaded baked potato soup, usually made from leftover prepared
baked potatoes in a creamy base and served with bacon bits, sour cream and chives. Loaded
potato skins were close behind.
Since the day they first showed up on American menus, loaded potatoes have never gone
out of style. But now they have new culinary moorings in appetizers, shareable plates and bowl
meals, conduits for international flavors and daypart extensions.
When refreshing the menu, consider a new loaded potato option, which is bound to be popular
whether starting with fries, tots, chips, mashed, baked, hash browns or beyond.
A glance across the globe yields unique loaded-potato variations and foundations on which to build.
Loaded fries can easily be viewed through the prism of Canada’s wildly popular poutine.
The Irish lay claim to champ potatoes (mashed potatoes with chopped scallions, butter, milk and cheese)
and colcannon, another mashed potato dish that includes kale and/or cabbage and scallions, leeks and onions.
Dave Woolley, owner of consulting company CD Culinary Approach, Denver, believes the champ potato dish is
the original potato bowl. Both dishes are Irish classics. “It’s a great time to reinterpret those,” he says.
Taking from the Italians, Gram & Dun, Kansas City, Missouri, menus what has become its popular loaded
baked potato gnocchi. It wasn’t a dish executive chef Nathan Nichols set out to create. The idea evolved from a
combination of the beloved baked potato bar for staff dinners and playing with regular gnocchi for the menu. “Looking at
the two together, the idea popped into my head. It kind of created itself,” he says.
To make the entree dish, Nichols bakes russet potatoes in the oven, splits them down the center, scoops out the flesh and
reserves the shell, which he later deep-fries. The potato flesh becomes the foundation for gnocchi, which, combined with a
rich cheesy sauce, goes back into the deep-fried potato skins. He garnishes with chives, bacon and cheese.
Potatoes are a natural and enduring
platform to carry flavorful ingredients.
By Jody Shee