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  #1  
Old 01-30-2013, 07:57 AM
Mona Lisa Simpson Mona Lisa Simpson is offline
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Why didn't these potatoes cook.

Sorry about the thread title. I just don't know what else to call it.

Monday night I took a package of spareribs out of the freezer, to make ribs Tuesday. My plan was for a barbecue sauce that the family likes. My husband... I am not sure his plan, but he chopped them up into single rib units, added potatoes and carots and put them in the slow cooker, with water, salt and pepper. I guess an hour later he decided that wasn't going to fly, took the ribs out, (put them in a bowl in the fridge) and left the mess in the slow cooker. In the morning I just stuck the bowl into the fridge, figuring I would deal with it later..throwing out or salvaging, whatever.

Fast forward to dinner time, I discover we are out of potatoes, and decide to fish out the spuds from the slow cooker. These oness that have been marinating in an icky mix of sparerib juice since midnight the previous night. I figured I would boil them up hard, then make mashed potatoes.

These potatoes did not cook. I boiled them for the usual 20 and kept going. Not done at 30. Not done at 35 minutes. At the 45 minute mark they could be sliced with the edge of a fork but the starch hadn't broken down and they were still kind of hard. At this point I gave up, tossed them in a pan and made home fries. When the outsides became a golden brown I pulled them out. Many still had not fully cooked. We enjoyed the ribs and coleslaw, and pretty much ignored the potatoes.

So, what happened here. Was it the cooking cooling cycle? Was it sitting in a broth of rib and connective tissue? Was it some fault of the russet potatoes themselves? Does anyone have any ideas as to why these potatoes became impervious to cooking?
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  #2  
Old 01-30-2013, 09:26 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Only time I've seen that is when potatoes have been still green. Can't explain your situation, though.
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  #3  
Old 01-30-2013, 10:50 AM
DCnDC DCnDC is online now
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What kind of potatoes were they?
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  #4  
Old 01-30-2013, 11:12 AM
DMark DMark is offline
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"These oness that have been marinating in an icky mix of sparerib juice since midnight the previous night."

Perhaps the overnight marinating could have caused a really hard outer coating that didn't let the water absorb, and thus the inside part of the potatoes remained uncooked?

Actually - this sounds interesting and wonder how I could use this concept...perhaps make mashed potato "balls", let them marinate all night and get that thick coating, and then boiling them? Sort of the "M&M" of potatoes - melts in your mouth, not on your plate!

Last edited by DMark; 01-30-2013 at 11:12 AM..
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  #5  
Old 01-30-2013, 11:15 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
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How long did the ribs and potatoes cook before he took the ribs out? Did he turn off the cooker at that point, and the potatoes were cold in the marinade all night?
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  #6  
Old 01-30-2013, 11:17 AM
Leaffan Leaffan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCnDC View Post
What kind of potatoes were they?
In the OP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mona Lisa Simpson View Post
..Was it some fault of the russet potatoes themselves? ..
ETA: I'm curious why, after setting up the slow cooker, he decided to dismantle everything after an hour in the first place.

Last edited by Leaffan; 01-30-2013 at 11:19 AM..
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  #7  
Old 01-30-2013, 11:39 AM
FrankJBN FrankJBN is offline
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Were the potatoes whole?
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  #8  
Old 01-30-2013, 12:20 PM
Mona Lisa Simpson Mona Lisa Simpson is offline
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The potatoes were russets, peel still on, chopped into say 1 inch pieces. Apparently the slow cooker was on low for about an hour, (and the cooker really takes a while to heat) then he thought... "What If I am just making sparerib stew?" and took the whole mess apart, ribs in the fridge and everything else just sitting on the counter. I would have tossed the whole lot out but yesterday was busy, and then at the end of the day, with my nice oven cooked ribs in bbq sauce ready to eat I realized he had made a mess of our last potatoes. Thus, my attempts to rescue them rather than just put into a compost bin or something.

(In retrospect I could have sent him to the store then made mashed potatoes and we still would have been eating before the nasty raw starch pan fries were served.)

I wondered if it was some property of the connective tissue in ribs maybe... I don't know. The potatoes were not green, the others in this same purchased lot cooked up nicely, nothing unusual about them.
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  #9  
Old 01-30-2013, 12:29 PM
Mona Lisa Simpson Mona Lisa Simpson is offline
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And yes, by the way the husband is very sorry and will not do this again. He has been warned.-
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  #10  
Old 01-30-2013, 02:12 PM
Honey Honey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mona Lisa Simpson View Post
And yes, by the way the husband is very sorry and will not do this again. He has been warned.-
At least he tries. You should keep him.
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  #11  
Old 01-30-2013, 03:05 PM
bump bump is offline
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Maybe something to do with starch retrogradation? Same reason rice hardens up after cooking?
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  #12  
Old 01-30-2013, 03:23 PM
Sahirrnee Sahirrnee is offline
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I've had potatoes that would never get done.
It's happened to my mother, my grandmother, and friends.
I don't know why it happens but you can cook them all day and they are still hard.

Maybe you got a batch of some of those.
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  #13  
Old 01-30-2013, 03:30 PM
Mona Lisa Simpson Mona Lisa Simpson is offline
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Originally Posted by Honey View Post
At least he tries. You should keep him.
He makes home made french fries for us. And terrible terrible scrambled eggs. He will even make my son an incredible, inedible waffle from time to time, and allows the boy to drench it in syrup to "make it tasty." He makes nasty coffee to give me when I have to get up for a 7 am shift, usually he passes me the coffee before my feet hit the floor.

Good intentions, not always the greatest results. And yes, he's a keeper.
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  #14  
Old 01-30-2013, 03:37 PM
Mona Lisa Simpson Mona Lisa Simpson is offline
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Originally Posted by sahirrnee View Post
I've had potatoes that would never get done.
It's happened to my mother, my grandmother, and friends.
I don't know why it happens but you can cook them all day and they are still hard.

Maybe you got a batch of some of those.
Its like the banana that never ripens. I think I learned it here, about bananas getting chilled in transit and never ripen. I used to argue "No, its not plantain, it is a banana that won't ripen." It happens, occasionally, and until I learned about the chilled bananas that just don't ripen after that, I would wonder why the duds?

And yest, this was a dud potato or two. (These were enormous russet potatoes, about 7 or 8 inches long by about 4 inches in diameter, so he only used two.) Even the colour never turned to that beige-white of a cooked potato, there was still that silky textured shiny whiteness of uncooked starched , both in the boiled and fried potatoes.

And now, as of this thread, I have spent more time thinking about the colour of potatoes than I ever have in my life.
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  #15  
Old 01-30-2013, 04:15 PM
Leaffan Leaffan is online now
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I'm on my phone right now, but have a look at this link. Pre_cooking sets the starch on the outside of the potatoes.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/499947

Last edited by Leaffan; 01-30-2013 at 04:18 PM..
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  #16  
Old 01-30-2013, 05:25 PM
Mona Lisa Simpson Mona Lisa Simpson is offline
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Wow, Leaffan, thanks that describes exactly what happened. The low temperature not enough to boil pre-cook then the starch set for 16 or so hours, and I ended up with these weird non-cooking potatoes.
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  #17  
Old 01-30-2013, 06:46 PM
Jeff Lichtman Jeff Lichtman is online now
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On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee agrees with Leaffan. It says that some fruits and vegetables won't soften if they are preheated to 130-140 degrees F (55 - 60 C) for 20 to 30 minutes. These include potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, beans, cauliflower, tomatoes, cherries and apples. Heating to this temperature range activates an enzyme in the cell walls that changes the pectin in the cell walls so it cross-links with calcium more easily. The heat also causes calcium to be released, and the pectin that links with it becomes less prone to breaking down at higher temperatures. This same enzyme is inactivated at temperatures above 160 F (70 C).
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Last edited by Jeff Lichtman; 01-30-2013 at 06:48 PM..
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  #18  
Old 01-30-2013, 07:25 PM
SeaDragonTattoo SeaDragonTattoo is offline
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I don't understand why he just didn't leave the cooker on, after removing the meat, and just cook the rest of the veggies that were in there anyway. Seems wasteful.
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  #19  
Old 01-30-2013, 07:27 PM
Mona Lisa Simpson Mona Lisa Simpson is offline
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And the slow cooker got nowhere near boiling in it's hour long bath with the ribs... so yep, calcified taters.

Ignorance fought!
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  #20  
Old 01-30-2013, 07:30 PM
Mona Lisa Simpson Mona Lisa Simpson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaDragonTattoo View Post
I don't understand why he just didn't leave the cooker on, after removing the meat, and just cook the rest of the veggies that were in there anyway. Seems wasteful.

Agreed. Wasteful, messy, and end result = new form of indigestible starch.
I am not with him for his culinary expertise.
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  #21  
Old 01-30-2013, 07:41 PM
SeaDragonTattoo SeaDragonTattoo is offline
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Well, it made for an interesting thread, anyway! I eat a lot of potatoes, this might have happened to me one day save for learning about it now. The coffee thing sounds horrid, yet adorable.
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  #22  
Old 01-30-2013, 08:08 PM
elbows elbows is offline
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I just gotta ask, from where did the concept of quitting after 35mins come into play? I can't think of anything that would have stopped me from forging on to 45, 55, 65, and so on. With the hardheaded ness of a mule! I can only aspire to the maturity you've shown in knowing when to call it off. I'd still be going back and checking an hour or more later, and it would have become my mission, perhaps even a vendetta of sorts. Nicely done!
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  #23  
Old 01-30-2013, 09:07 PM
Mona Lisa Simpson Mona Lisa Simpson is offline
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I stopped at 45 minutes when I realized they weren't any more par-boiled than they had been 20 minutes earlier. (And I use 20-25 minutes as my rule of thumb for making mashed potatoes) Plus we were all starving, and it was getting late. I thought... ooh they are boiled enough for homefries.

And... no. My husband gamely chewed through a few, and so did I. My nine year old took one bite and said "If I eat extra vegetables can I skip the potatoes?".

We ALL decided to eat extra veggies.
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  #24  
Old 01-31-2013, 06:23 PM
papergirl papergirl is offline
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I've had this happen! I didn't know why, of course--I thought it was because I put the raw potatoes directly into a tomatoey broth to cook instead of precooking them. They finally cooked enough to be edible, but they stayed chunky and chewy, with an outer layer that didn't soften up. Iiiiinteresting.
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