Ina Garten's Extra Step When Draining Boiled Potatoes Improves Texture

There's nothing sexy about boiled potatoes, but Ina Garten might make you think otherwise. As simple as boiled potatoes are, they can present challenges for even those who are the most skilled in the kitchen. Forget to season the water with salt and your boiled potatoes will not only be bland, but your water won't boil at a high enough temperature to properly cook the starch and produce the creamy spud you are hoping for. And no one wants a mouthful of dry, under or overcooked potato. To combat this issue and to improve the texture of her spud, the Barefoot Contessa takes an extra step when draining her potatoes.

During a segment of her cooking show where she is making her tarragon potato salad, Garten revealed that after she boils her two pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes for about 15 minutes, she drains them in a colander. But to get the texture just right, she takes a clean towel and places it over the potatoes in the colander. Garten explains that this will allow them to steam. She then leaves them under the towel for 10 minutes.

It makes them tender

The end product is a softer, creamier spud that your mouth will thank you for. Knowing when your potatoes are ready to be drained can be tricky. It really depends on how many you are boiling and how big they are. Ina Garten shared that if you are in doubt as to when to remove the boiling potatoes from their heat source to drain them, you can simply take a skewer or toothpick and poke one. If there is resistance, they need to cook a little longer.

If your potatoes are boiled, why steam them? Potatoes by their very nature are dense. For this reason, conventional wisdom might have you bringing your water to a full boil to cook them and do so quickly — however, doing so will not produce your desired results. In fact, you may end up with a potato that is raw in the middle and overcooked everywhere else. It takes a little time to cook them just right, which is why Garten's trick is the key to perfect potatoes. Steaming them after draining makes the interior even more tender.