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How do I avoid mushy potatoes in my stew?

l
ladev155 Nov 12, 2009 08:57 AM

Recently I made a traditional Irish stew. Meat, potatoes and veg.

I cooked the meat a bit, and the potatoes, separately. Then dumped them in the beef broth with some veg. I cooked for several hours and by the end, my stew was very mushy, all the potatoes had mushed into the broth. Is this suppose to happen? It still tasted very good but I dont think I wanted it to be a big mushed stew?

Let me know if anyone can help or has any insight?

Thanks so much!!!!

  1. roxlet Nov 12, 2009 11:14 AM

    Harold McGee has a technique for avoiding mushy potatoes that I use when I make potato salad. It works like a charm. You will need some sort of thermometer to be in the water with the potatoes. When the potatoes reach 130 degrees, turn them down and keep them between 130-140 degrees for 20 minutes. What this does is firm the cell structure of the potatoes. After that, you just cook them until done, or perhaps add them to your stew at that point.

    1. Caroline1 Nov 12, 2009 09:49 AM

      First off, I suspect you used Idaho (baking) potatoes. They will break up easily if overcooked just the slightest, but it's also why they're usually the potato of choice for mashing. For a traditional stew there is no reason to cook the potatoes alone. You just figure how much cooking time the potatoes require (always less than the beef, or almost always) and then add them to the pot that much time before the beef is done. Any "waxy" potatoes will hold their shape well in a stew. I like red potatoes, but the standard waxy potatoes work too. It's pretty difficulty to cook them to the fall-apart stage, and I often use mine unpeeled, especially when using small "new" potatoes. Good luck!

      1. k
        KTinNYC Nov 12, 2009 09:49 AM

        The other posters are corect in saying you are overcooking your potatoes but the type of potato you use is important as well if you want the potatoes to stay intact. Waxy potatoes hold there shape better then starchy ones.

        1. chowser Nov 12, 2009 09:38 AM

          You can partially boil them to wash away a little starch and then add them in about the last half hour or so of simmering.

          1. Uncle Bob Nov 12, 2009 09:27 AM

            Avoid mushy potatoes by not over cooking....Add them towards the end of cooking....30 minutes or so should do the trick......

            Fun!

            1. iluvcookies Nov 12, 2009 09:20 AM

              Did you boil the potatoes separately? If they were nearly fully cooked then it was just too much time cooking in the stew--was this in a slow cooker?

              When I make beef stew I cook the meat for about 1 1/2 hrs then add the raw veggies and potatoes (carrots cut into large thick coins and potatoes in appx 2" chunks) and cook for another hour or so. This is in the oven at 275-300 F and not in a slow cooker.

              1 Reply
              1. re: iluvcookies
                iluvcookies Nov 12, 2009 10:09 AM

                to KTinNYC's point, I use either Yukon Gold or new potatoes in beef stew.

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