Here’s a hot take: Potatoes are underrated. Sure, they’re starchy and simple, but that’s what makes them so versatile. They’re also the OG North Fork crop — many of our local vineyards and quite possibly the land your house sits on were once uninterrupted acres of potato farms.
Over at the Preston House in Riverhead, they are taking full advantage of Long Island’s fall bounty of potatoes. “You can rice them, cream them, fry them, pan sear them and whole roast them,” said executive chef Drew Hiatt. “They are a great filler for a side dish or protein and you can have them on a brunch, lunch and dinner menu.”
Potato pancakes, made with egg whites and flour, are grated and fried to make a crispy little vessel for the smoked salmon and creme fraichee that comes with it at brunch. Another early-day potato option are the twice-cooked fingerlings, a longer, skinnier potato. These are roasted, cooled, mashed and fried and then smothered in herbs they have on hand and Parmesan cheese.
For more of a meal, Hiatt rices potatoes and mixes them with egg yolks, flour and olive oil for a slightly spicy and pillowy gnocchi. Preston House serves the gnocchi for dinner with leeks, chile, saffron and Long Island tilefish.
When at home, Hiatt uses potatoes for a potato salad as a side dish. “I use a nice marbled baby potato or a small red-skinned potato for my potato salad,” he said. “I put in bacon and a half and half sour cream and mayo mix. I also add Gouda cheese, scallions and shallots.”
For a classic mashed potato, Hiatt recommends one kitchen tool. “It is important to rice the potato in a ricer or food mill,” he said. This creates a super-smooth texture. “I get my butter, cream, salt and white pepper together in a pot and melt it, then put it in a kitchenAid mixer with the potato and mix. I am one for going on the looser side with mashed potatoes, like a potato fondue.”