This Simple Trick Cooks Potatoes In Half The Time

We love any technique that helps get food in our bellies faster. In this case, it's one for cooking potatoes. Boiling spuds to use in a dinner or as a side dish is not always the most appealing option because of the time it adds to meal prepThe Spruce Eats lays out this commitment, listing the time for scrubbing and peeling two-and-a-half pounds of potatoes as 10 minutes (which feels like a conservative estimate!) — and noting a cooking time of 20 minutes.

While this doesn't seem bad at first glance, once you add in the prep, cooking steps, and timing for the rest of your meal, it could begin to feel cumbersome. Plus, as Food52 points out, there is always the added risk — after devoting all that effort — of winding up with improperly cooked potatoes that are mushy, crunchy, or both. So naturally our heads turned when we read about a method for boiling potatoes from British cookbook author and chef Anna Jones that takes only five minutes. Yes, five!

Potatoes aren't usually cooked this way but they should be

According to Epicurious, Jones' approach — from her cookbook "A Modern Way To Cook” — begins with an electric tea kettle. While water heats up in the kettle, Jones dices potatoes into small cubes. Once the water boils, she pours it over the diced potatoes in a saucepan, then keeps them at a simmer on the stovetop. In just five minutes, the potatoes are ready — tender enough to toss into recipes for hash or soups, to fry up into home fries, or to roast with meats and veggies.

The timesaving trick here is to heat the water while you prep your potatoes. Electric tea kettles, a far more common appliance in European kitchens, brings water to a boil in mere minutes. Or, you can just use your regular kettle or a saucepan. Cutting the potatoes into small cubes is also crucial for this quick cooking since there's less surface space. But smaller varieties of potatoes can also be cooked faster than usual using this technique.

Most recipes advise to start cooking potatoes in cold water because, according to Tasting Table, they cook more evenly if they are able to heat up in tandem with the water. Dropping potatoes into boiling water can sometimes cook the outside faster than the middle, creating a gluey texture. The reason Jones' technique works, according to Epicurious, is that it only partially cooks the diced potatoes. So, this method isn't intended for potatoes to be mashed or eaten plain — rather, use it for recipes where they'll be fried, boiled, or roasted to a perfect finish.