Good Eats
This Spud's for You.jpg
"This Spud's for You"


Good Eats








The Baked Potato


Potato/Portobello Gratin

Production Number



July 1998 (WTTW)

July 14, 1999

Episode Chronology


"Steak Your Claim"


"The Egg-Files"

Related Titles


"This Spud's For You Too"

Alton Brown ponders the potato and its main ingredient starch. Baking, mashing and gratins are re-examined.


The Spanish Conquistadors first scooped potatoes from its native soil back when they were plundering Central and South America. The Incas were able to figure out how to grow a potato without poison in it. Bell peppers, egg plant, tobacco, tomatoes are all other members of the nightshade family. In a mid 19th century blight wiped out 4 years of Irish crop leaving about a million dead and another million sailing for America.

Preheat your oven to 350°. You want to poke holes all over it with a fork. Place it into a bowl and give it just a little bit of oil. Give it a little bit of kosher salt and straight into the middle of the oven. It's going to be done in about an hour. The skin will feel kind of crunchy but the meat inside will be soft. You can start a potato in the microwave, just put it on high for a couple of minutes and finish it in the oven.

The low starch or waxy potato is the Norland, also called a Red or Boiling Potato. The great majority of low starch potatoes are round and red there are also Fingerling potatoes. Even though there are dozens of varieties from Pontiacs to La Sodas to Norlands, they're often just called, Red. Some people even call them "New Potatoes", although New Potatoes are just little baby versions of any potato.

With mashers I use peeled Russets and I use unpeeled Red Potatoes. We're going to fill this pot with hot water only to the top of the potatoes. Potatoes, like pasta and eggs, really do need some salt to taste like themselves. Use low fat buttermilk and just a little bit of whipping cream. You'll be fine with a total of about a 1/4 cup of dairy per pound of potato. We're going to put this on to simmer for about 15 minutes or until that garlic is nice and soft. Once your potatoes come to a boil they'll be done in just a couple of minutes.

Potato starch is tiny little granules made up of long strands of a sugar called glucose. These little granules are very stable until they come in contact with heat and moisture. Get the temperature up to about 160° and they blow up to hundreds of times their normal size. If they crumble you're good to go. Put some nice softened garlic, some sautéed onions, some sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and bacon, maybe some horseradish.

Stepping up for the medium starch category is the Yukon Gold, developed by the Canadians. Medium starch potatoes do look like Russets but they always have lighter kind of thinner skin. Varieties like Kennebecs, Superiors and California Longs are always marketed as white.

Potatoes are like eggs and pasta, they go good with Asiago cheese, Portobello mushrooms and parsley. A gratin is basically just a casserole constructed out of thin slices of potato layered. A mandoline is perfect for executing a lot of uniform cuts quickly. Medium starch potatoes like these Yukon Golds are really perfect because they'll bind together when they cook. Butter your casserole. Put down a layer of potatoes with the other ingredients on top until we've got about 4 layers down. You want to go kind of light on the mushrooms. A little bit of parsley. Some salt. A few grinds of pepper and a little bit of Asiago cheese. Add about half a cup of half & half. Bake anywhere between 400 or 450. For about the first 45 minutes of cooking, cover this with foil very loosely.

Most potatoes will last 10 to 20 days. Any place dark, dry and cool is fine for potato storage. A paper bag, on the counter, folded up in a dry place is fine. We pulled the foil off about 10 minutes ago to let the top brown. When done a knife really goes in easily. Let it sit for, say, 15 to 30 minutes.


Alton Brown: "Remember what Richard Dreyfuss made a mountain out of in Close Encounters? Hmm? Mashed potatoes."


  • The Inca Indians invented freeze dried Potatoes.
  • Luther Burbank grew the first Russet in New England. He never visited Idaho.
  • Simmer; 185° - Small Bubbles Breaking Surface
  • A 6 oz. Potato yields: 100 Calories; 23 gr. Carbohydrates; 3 gr. Protein; and no Fat.
  • "Potato" comes from the Caribbean word Batata, Meaning Sweet Potato.


Sally Bernhardt ... Store Clerk (Herself)

Deborah Duchon ... Cultural Anthropologist (Herself)

John Gregario ... Mime


Asiago, Bacon, Black pepper, Buttermilk, Canola oil, Cream, Garlic, Half and half, Heavy cream, Horseradish, Kosher salt; Mushroom, Oil, Parmesan, Parsley, Pepper, Pesto, Portobello mushroom, Potato, Red potato, Russet potato, Salt, Sun-dried tomato, Tomato, Water, Yukon gold potato


Bell pepper, Butter, Egg, Eggplant, Fingerling potato, Milk, New potato; Onion, Pasta, Tofu juice, Vegetable stock, Whipping cream




Shredding, Sautéing, Scalloping, Baking, Broiling, Mashing, Whipping, Grilling, Roasting, Frying, Boiling, Simmering, Slicing, Shoestring cut, Waffle cut, Browning


Casserole, Chowder, Gratin, Sauce, Vegetable


Glucose, Flower, Heat, Leaf, Moisture, Nightshade, Root, Starch, Stem, Texture, Tobacco, Tuber




Canada, Caribbean, Central America, Charles Dickens, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Conquistador, Europe, France, Idaho, Inca, Ireland, Italy, Luther Burbank, New England, Richard Dreyfuss, South America, William Shakespeare

Visual Aids[]



Title Origin[]

"This Bud's for You" ad slogan for Budweiser.