Restaurant consultants and food writers are calling 2012 the “Year of the Potato.” Well, personally, I think pretty much every year is the potato’s year, at least in the United States. Year in and year out, we eat more potatoes than any other vegetable.
Of all the potatoes out there, however, the one that is probably getting the most attention right now is the Yukon Gold. And there’s a good reason for that. These yellow-skinned, yellow-fleshed potatoes are naturally buttery and creamy, and are good just about any way you cook them.
You may have just heard of these golden potatoes in the last few years, as chefs and restaurants have discovered them, but they are not all that new. In fact, in much of the rest of the world, yellow potatoes have been the gold standard for centuries.
In the U.S., however, we have traditionally preferred potatoes with white flesh. That began to change only about a generation ago, after Canadian researchers developed the Yukon Gold by crossing North American white potatoes with yellow varieties from South America.
The result was a yellow-fleshed potato with skin so thin you don’t really have to peel them, and a tender flesh that is especially good for pan-frying, boiling, and mashing.
That probably has a lot to do with the unique texture and starch content. Yukon Golds do not have quite as much starch as a traditional baking potato like an Idaho or a russet, but they have a little more starch than a red potato, which is often boiled or mashed. They cook fairly quickly, so you do have to watch them, as they can get too soft and fall apart if overcooked.
Also, unlike some potatoes, they don’t turn grayish when cooked. In fact, they often turn a little more golden, so your mashed potatoes will have a pretty golden hue, even if you don’t use much butter to flavor them.
Which, right there, is part of the reason potatoes are popular again in some circles. Now that the “low-carb” diet fad has died down, more people have realized that potatoes can actually be pretty good for you, as long as you don’t overload them with fat and salt. (A medium uncooked potato has only about 100 calories, but good chunks of Vitamin C, potassium and fiber.)
And that is where the Yukon Gold really stands out. You may find you that Yukon Golds have a richer flavor and creamier texture than other potatoes, so you can get by with less butter, cream, cheese or bacon in your favorite potato dishes.