10 French potato varieties and how to cook them

Have you ever found yourself in a supermarket and stuck with the sheer variety of potatoes when all you wanted to make was pomme puree?

France is home to a wide array of potato varieties. Some are small and finger-like, others are round and large, and there’s a full spectrum of skin and flesh colors.

Indeed, French cuisine has a long history of utilizing potatoes in a variety of dishes, from simple boiled potatoes to creamy gratins to golden frites. The potatoes grown in France are often specifically suited to these traditional cooking methods.

Plus, France has strict quality control and designation standards, such as the Label Rouge and the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC), which ensure high-quality produce. These standards often mandate specific growing conditions and cultivation techniques, contributing to the high quality and unique characteristics of French potatoes.

Whether you’re making a comforting gratin, a vibrant salad, or crispy fries, these potatoes will elevate your dishes.

See also: 16 essential French beef cuts to know when dining out or at the butcher’s

Photo by Wijs (Wise)

Ratte du Touquet
A small, finger-shaped tuber with a nutty flavor and buttery texture. These potatoes are excellent for boiling. Just scrub them clean, add them to a pot of salted water, and simmer until they’re tender. They’re great in a French-style potato salad with Dijon mustard, fresh herbs, and a splash of white wine vinegar.

This medium-sized, yellow-fleshed potato has a balanced, earthy flavor. It’s an excellent all-rounder, but it particularly shines when fried. Try them as pomme frites: Cut them into strips, soak in cold water to remove excess starch, dry thoroughly, and double-fry for crispy perfection.

Belle de Fontenay
An early variety potato, Belle de Fontenay has a firm texture and subtle flavor. They’re excellent for boiling or steaming, maintaining their shape well. They’re ideal for a “gratin dauphinois”, layered with cream and garlic, then baked until golden and bubbling.

This potato is known for its striking purple color, which it retains even after cooking. Vitelotte has a nutty flavor and slightly firm texture. Try making a vibrant purple mash by boiling and mashing them with butter, cream, salt, and pepper. They also make eye-catching roasted potatoes or chips.

Amandine potatoes are long, thin, and have a light yellow flesh. They have a sweet, delicate flavor, and their texture is waxy, making them perfect for salads or steamed dishes. Try them in a “salade Niçoise” or simply steamed with a knob of butter and a sprinkle of parsley.

Charlotte potatoes are small to medium in size with a creamy yellow flesh. They have a firm, waxy texture and a subtle, sweet flavor. They’re excellent for roasting or sautéing. Try sautéing them in a pan with olive oil, garlic, and rosemary for a simple, flavorful side dish.

This variety is a good all-rounder with a smooth skin and creamy flesh. Agata potatoes are perfect for baking, roasting, and making French fries. For a baked Agata, pierce the skin several times, rub with olive oil and a little salt, and bake until the skin is crispy and the inside is fluffy.

Known for its distinctive red skin and yellow flesh, Roseval potatoes are small and elongated with a waxy texture. They are excellent for roasting whole. Toss them in olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and roast until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

This variety is small, with a bright red skin and yellow flesh. They have a slightly sweet flavor and hold their shape well when cooked. Try them boiled or steamed in a French potato salad with a vinaigrette dressing.

Pompadour potatoes have a delicate flavor with a firm, waxy texture. They’re great for boiling and making into salads or gratins. For a simple dish, boil them until tender, then toss with butter, chopped fresh herbs, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Top photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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