Simply Seasonal: The world-famous potato |

Simply Seasonal: The world-famous potato

Special to the Daily/Nelson Kunkel

The United Nations has deemed 2008 the International Year of the Potato, turning global attention to an age-old crop that could help the risk of food shortages and instability in dozens of developing countries. The designation is raising awareness of the key role played by the humble tuber in agriculture, the economy and world food security. The UNs goal is to promote development of sustainable potato-based systems that enhance the well-being of producers and consumers and help realize the potatos full potential as a food of the future.Farmers began growing potatoes in Colorados San Luis Valley about 1875, making it one of the oldest potato growing areas in this country. The majestic snow-covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains jut up 14,000 feet to surround the fertile plateau of the San Luis Valley. At 7,600 feet, in the highest and largest commercial agricultural valley in the world, the potato flourishes. Due to its central location in the country, Colorado supplies potatoes easily to the four geographic extremes of the United States.The average American eats 136.5 pounds of potatoes a year. That is almost 412 per person; or over a spud a day. High in potassium, low in sodium, Colorado potatoes are a great source of fiber, and have just 110 calories when baked and eaten plain. We Americans tend to take this superfood for granted; after all, who doesnt love french fries? But frying, or loading the potato up with butter, sour cream and a variety of fixins certainly detracts from its basic nutritious self.One reason the tubers are so popular and can be considered as a food of the future in the developing world is that they stay fresh for months after harvesting. The majority of the potatoes grown in the U.S. are harvested between August and October and are then shipped from storage through the spring. Stored in a cool, dry space they remain edible for months.Restaurant Avondales Executive Chef Jeremy Kittelson reveres the common potato.Its versatility alone makes it a natural choice as a superfood, he says. Letting the flavor speak for itself in a simple salad reminds us that we dont have to overdo it with additional ingredients. But who can resist the decadence of a twice-baked?

1/4 pound red potatoes, in one inch pieces2 cups assorted greens4 eggs, poached1/8 teaspoons chopped dill weed1/4 cup red wine vinegar2 teaspoons whole grain mustard1/2 cup olive oilCook the potatoes in boiling water until youre just able to pierce them with a fork. Drain. Mix red wine vinegar, mustard and olive oil together in a bowl. Place the potatoes in a bowl, season with the dill and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with some of the dressing and stir to coat. Allow potatoes to cool in refrigerator. When ready to serve, add salad greens to potatoes and toss with remaining dressing. Divide among four plate and top each with a warm, poached egg. Serves 4.

Stuffing:4 Russet potatoes3 tablespoons butter1/2 cup sour cream2 tablespoons green onions, mincedSalt and pepper to tasteFinish with:2 tablespoons butter2 tablespoons sour cream2 teaspoons fresh chives, snipped2 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbledBake the potatoes in a 350-degree oven about one hour until fluffy. Let cool. Slice off each end of the potato, scoop out the inside into a bowl, being careful to leave enough so the hollowed skins stay intact. Mash insides with butter, sour cream, green onions, salt and pepper. Holding the skin upright, stuff the potato mixture back into the skins and refrigerate till firm. Using a serrated knife, slice into rounds about one half inch thick. Melt additional butter in skillet and saut both sides of a potato round till brown and crispy. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives and bacon bits. Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

4 Yukon Gold potatoes, roasted and peeled1 bunch leeks, cleaned and chopped (white parts only)1 clove garlic, minced1 shallot, minced3 sprigs fresh thyme1/2 yellow onion, chopped2 tablespoons butter4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock1/4 cup creamSalt and pepper to tasteSweat potatoes, leeks, garlic, shallots, onion, and thyme in butter till fragrant. Add stock and enough additional water to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add cream. Simmer five minutes, remove from heat and remove thyme sprigs. Blend soup, then strain and serve. Serves 4.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale and Larkspur Restaurant. Avondale recently opened in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon. The restaurant features a West Coast inspired, seasonal menu and the chefs use time-honored cooking methods, such as slow roasting and braising, to create simple dishes rich in flavor. The wine program focuses on small production wines to compliment the straightforward cuisine. For more information visit

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