Washington Grown Season 8 Episode 8 - "Colorful Potatoes"
Washington Grown is brought to you by The Potato Farmers of Washington. Learn why Washington is home to the world's most productive potato fields and farmers by visiting potatoes.com. Also brought to you by Northwest Farm Credit Services, supporting agriculture in rural communities with reliable consistent credit and financial services today and tomorrow. And by the Washington Turfgrass Seed Commission helping our farmers produce the highest quality turfgrass seed in the world. - Hi everyone, I'm Kristi Gorenson and welcome to "Washington Grown." We are very lucky here in Washington.
When we go to the grocery store, we have all different types of potatoes to choose from. Russets, Yukon Golds, Fingerlings. So in this episode, we're gonna learn what makes them so good.
Val's visiting Double-N potatoes in Burlington. - Good job! - Hot diggity dog. Day one. - Good job. - And I'm making a special potato dish called Skins & Ins at Mean Sandwich. - So it looks very much like a fully loaded baked potato.
- It totally does. Yeah, you upped it little bit. - Exactly. - Plus, Tomás is learning how drone technology is improving Washington potato crops. - It sounds cliche, but this is kind of the future is now.
- All this and more today on Washington Grown. [upbeat music] This is harder than it looks. It's a little baby pig. That's really, really good. [slapping noise] - That's a little party in a little glass. - Well, hello there.
Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble. [gobbling] - No TV bites here. I'm going to dig in. Cheers. Cheers. Cheers.
[plane engine] I'm in Ballard at a hidden gem located just underneath the Ballard Bridge called Mean sandwich. Dan Crookston is the owner and mastermind behind it all. Mean Sandwich. So is that kind of like you make a mean sandwich? - I think so. I want to be humble, but we do make really delicious food and we try really hard to make chef-driven delicious flavors that you can be proud of eating any you can tell your friends about. - I brought friends here before.
- I definitely brought my boyfriend here for the first time and he's become a regular. - Oh, it's always friendly. The owners are always super friendly.
- The menu itself is working very hard to be atypical. - Today I ordered the oyster po'boy and it is fantastic. - Today. I got their mean sandwich. Their kind of a Reuben-like. - Well, the mean sandwich our namesake is thick cut corn beef instead of thin cut. It's on a burger bun, and it has fresh picked mint and pickled cabbage that we do here.
And then the secret ingredient in there is a little bit of a Vermont maple syrup. - The unique sandwiches and potatoes called Skins & Ins are what keep people coming back. - I'm mainly here for the skins. - The loaded Skins & Ins. - I had the Skins & Ins and they're delicious. - Our Skins & Ins are different.
They are made out of a whole potato That's been baked, cut into quarters, and then we cut out the center part. So you have both the skin and the in. And then we chopped that altogether and deep fry it. So you get crispy bits and thick, chunky bits. - Really good. I kind of get them every time I order a sandwich.
- What is it about the, the Washington potatoes that you like? - My favorite thing about Washington potatoes is their freshness. You know, there's something about Washingtonians and there's a, there's a can-do sense. And it comes from the fishermen. It comes from the farmers. - Later in the show, we'll be back at Mean Sandwich to make their famous Skins & Ins.
[upbeat music] - Welcome to the beautiful Skagit Valley. Here at Double-N Potatoes in the shadow of Mount Baker these magnificent fields of flowers hide something even more beautiful: colorful potatoes. - Well, when my dad started packing under his own label, his name was Norm Nelson. So Norm Nelson, two Ns, and he called it Double-N. - Jerry Nelson has been farming in the Skagit Valley for many years. His love for the area and his passion for farming have kept him growing some world famous potatoes.
- We've been growing it for over 45 years. So don't ask me how old I am. - Well, I'm not asking that. Although Jerry is well-known locally for his high quality produce, he also sells overseas to countries like Vietnam.
- I'm one who served in the Vietnam war. - Okay. - And to think that now, here I am back and able to sell potatoes into that area which we were fighting is exciting to me.
- For me, that begs the question then, what is it about the Skagit Valley that grows a potato that you can ship worldwide? - I like to say we're in the heart of Washington state. We feel like we have a perfect climate for growing colored potatoes. You know, one thing most people don't understand, most all of agriculture is grown in the desert. This is one of the few places in the world where it's not grown in a desert. These are high organic soils, and they're very conducive to growing lots of different things. And one of them is growing colored potatoes, and we get our beautiful color.
Whether it's whites, yellows or reds, we get a good color here. The downside is we have a shorter window for planting, a shorter window for harvesting, so there's more risk in it, but there is a reward when things go right. - I have to ask, what's your favorite way to enjoy potatoes? - I really enjoy it when I see other people enjoy potatoes.
- Oh. - Yeah. And it's music to my ears when people come in and say, "What do you do to your potatoes that make them taste so good? We get potatoes other places, they don't taste like yours do." You can't beat that.
And we get, we get that quite often. As far as myself personally, there isn't very many ways I don't like them. - Now. I think it's time to see some potatoes for myself. What's the proper way to harvest a potato? - Well, the first thing you do is when you get potatoes the right size that you want, you defoliate. Once you defoliate, they quit growing because you got the optimum size you want.
So then when you come in to harvest them, all this has dried up and gone away. - Oh. Okay. - So you want me to pull a plant? - Show me, show me how to do it. Yes, sir. - Oh, well. [laughing] - Or walk, or talk me through it. - Well, first of all, because you're on film, what you have to do is look for the perfect one.
- Oh, well, I have to follow your lead. - But we're lucky here today because they're all perfect. - Alright. - When you pull on them like that you feel a resistance, you know, - Oh, wow.
- That there's something's going on there. - That's beautiful. So I just gonna. - No, now what you do is you grab all together. - Oh, okay. - And get as close down as you can, so they won't break when you pull them up.
- Alright. - Get down here as close as you can. With both hands. - Alright. - And just bring them up slowly. There you go.
Good job! - Hot diggity dog. Day one. - Good job. [laughing] Look at the nice and root system that's on there.
- That is great. Look at those. - I feel like I've been very, very fortunate that I've been born in the Skagit County.
I've been able to farm for a living. It's a perfect place for me. And if I was to live my life again, I feel real fortunate if I could be able to do what I'm doing now. In agriculture, when you're growing things, you're starting anew every year. And I like that.
Yeah. Things start over again. - I'm always looking to find new places to play and explore in Washington. So today, I'm headed to the Potholes Reservoir in Grant County to see what all the buzz is about.
- My name is Bill Burke. I'm with Burke Marketing, and we're in beautiful Grant County at the Potholes Reservoir today. - The Potholes Reservoir. Now I've heard this term a lot. I'm from Yakima, so we drive by it all the time.
Now this thing does a lot, not only for agriculture, but for recreation too, right? - Yeah. Yeah. - Tell me a little bit about that. - Well, you know, this water starts way up at the North end of the county, and then through canals and lakes and streams and reservoirs and wasteways this water goes all the way from the north of the county all the way to the south of the county. And the whole idea was when people came here, they saw, well, this is ideal farmland. Where's the water? That was the issue. So as soon as they start building on the dam in the thirties into the forties, that's what led to the complete redevelopment of Grant County and the amount of agriculture that you see here in Grant County.
- Well, potatoes love Grant County. [laughing] - No kidding. More potatoes grown here than any other county in the US right? - Exactly.
- And now you're seeing these other markets come up like vineyards, grapes, vegetables, fruit, that sort of stuff in the south part of the county. And so we're becoming more and more agriculture related every day. - But yet that spawned a whole new subsection of recreational activities, right? - It's great getting two for one, isn't it? - Yeah. - And that's what they've done. As they irrigated and they started filling these lakes and these crevices, all of a sudden it became a recreation oasis. Everywhere you look there's water.
The public can get to this water very easily. So the combination of easy accessibility and a whole lot of water was a win-win. - What type of recreational activities can most people do on these lakes? - Everything. You can paraglide. You can, you can ski. You can, you can waterboard, canoe.
You can paddle board. It's open water. - On the way here though, I noticed there's also a lot of wildlife. - This is the Pacific Flyway. So many birds going through this county, form north to south, all year long as they migrate back and forth.
So all these waters also provide a home for those birds. The trails are like that too. We have trails that start up near the Grand Coulee Dam. Beautiful. I've been told by the state that two thirds
of all freshwater fishing licenses are sold to people who are going to fish in Grant County. - Just Grant County? - Just Grant County. And you find everything, walleye, trout. There is a long list of fish.
And a lot of these lakes are open year round. - I also spoke with Marilyn Meseberg. Her family has owned the MarDon Resort since the seventies. - We have in this Lake trophy walleye and bass. And this lake was actually voted the 10, one of the, one of the top 10 bass lakes in the United States because we have a huge population of large mouth, very healthy and small mouth. Walleye which is the best eating freshwater fish in the world.
- You know, I feel like you can't have good fishing without good camping. Right? - Yeah. - So tell me how those work together. - We're very lucky. First off, we have beautiful weather here. Okay. That's one of the things about camping.
You want to go somewhere where the weather's going to treat you right. So you're going to find campgrounds, everything from basic pads to full blown resorts with stores and stuff here in Grant County. - Excellent. So people know that on a consistent basis,
there's water here to have some fun. - Right on. All, all year long. - So you mentioned there's a lot of lakes here in Grant County. If I wanted to figure out where would be a good spot to go, how would I go about doing that? - Well, you could always go to our website tourgrantcounty.com. You're going to find a great list there, but also through the website, you can order our booklets.
And all those publications are free Just go on our website, tourgrantcounty.com, request them, and we'll make sure they get mailed out to you right away. [upbeat music] - What color blossom would it be on the chieftain plant? And the answer will be right after the break. - Coming up. I'm making Skins & Ins at Mean Sandwich.
- So it looks very much like a fully loaded baked potato. - Totally. Upped it a little bit. - Exactly.
- And we're in the kitchen at Second Harvest trying out some fondant potatoes. - The question was, what color blossoms do we have on the red chieftain? And the answer is behind me. As you can see here, is a violet.
- We're back at Mean Sandwich where owner Dan Crookston serves up a mean sandwich. - Today I ordered the oyster po'boy and it is fantastic. - Oh, today I got there, their mean sandwich. - Fried chicken sandwich and I added bacon to it.
- Using fresh local Washington ingredients is a passion for Dan. - When you charge $13 for a sandwich, you want to be able to tell a story about that sandwich, about the origin of that food and why this isn't a $7 sandwich. - So what are we going to make today? - So today we're going to focus on our Skins & Ins. I really want to showcase the Washington potato and the varieties of things that we can do with that. So we're going to make our Skins & Ins today. We're going to do all three versions that we have always on our menu.
- These are good looking potatoes. Washington grown obviously, and they've already been cooked. - They have, they have. We cook them at 350 degrees for about an hour and 15 minutes. And then we put them in the walk-in on speed racks to cool overnight. And that will give us a real creamy texture when we cut through them.
And you'll notice that when we cut through them. I say that we cut them into four jojos or four quarters. - Okay. - So I like to grab the knife face down and then just cut straight to the table. - Okay.
- And then let it fall over. - Okay. - And do the exact same thing.
And then I'm just going to cut that triangle out, pull it up, set that aside. So now I'm making two piles piles of my skins and piles of my ins. - I'm starting to understand the whole skins and ins thing now. - Then this all goes into the fryer. So you get really, really crispy bits where the skin is and it's a thinner spot and nice chunky bits of potato. And my favorite part about the Skins & Ins is as they taste like potato.
- Just a few minutes in the fryer and our Skins & Ins are ready. Oh, wow. - So we're looking for this golden brown, you know not too dark, but yet crispy. - Next we add salt. - So we just sprinkle in salt, always from above. - Nice and high.
- Yup. - Way up here. These potato nuggets are tasty just like this, but wait, there's more. - First upgrade that we do outside of specials is called Buffalo style. - Okay.
- And Buffalo style is really simple. We make up a Buffalo mayo. - Okay.
- With Frank's hot sauce. - My favorite. - And Hellman's. And then we cover it in chives.
We fresh cut chives. - Okay. - And that's Buffalo style and you eat it with a fork. - Next we're on to fully loaded. - The fully loaded comes with what we call is our house spice blend. And then it has our house white sauce, a mayo, sour cream and vinegar mix.
- Oh yum. - Then it gets finished with pecorino cheese we buy by the wheel. House-made bacon bits, so we fry off bacon on a regular basis and make our own bacon bits. And chives.
So it looks very much like a fully loaded baked potato. - Totally. Upped it a little bit. - Exactly. And these two, I serve with forks. - Now it's my favorite part, starting with the classic Skins & Ins.
Okay. Now Buffalo style. - That's my jam right there.
- Yeah. - I really love Franks. - Mmm hmm, me too. And finally, fully loaded. Love your Skins & Ins. - Right? - That white sauce is to die for.
While I try to decide which one is my favorite, Tomás has a fresh batch to share outside. - Thanks Kristi. Save some of those for me, too. Will ya? You know, after eight seasons, you think you've seen every way there is to make a potato. And then Dan here at Mean Sandwich makes the Skins & Ins.
Now, I think I love 'em, and I think you're going to love 'em, but let's see what the people here in Seattle think of them. Do you like potatoes? - Yes. Love potatoes. - Any kind is good. - I mean, I love fries. Who doesn't like fries? - French fries, tater tots, baked potatoes. - I'll take whatever potatoes I can get, you know.
- You could kind of put almost anything on a potato, can't you? - Yeah. Absolutely. - Sour cream, bacon, cheese, everything. - Doesn't matter. - No. Doesn't matter. - Bring it on. - It's good with everything.
- Dan is making these things called Skins & Ins. It's just a fun, unique way to prepare the potato. Why don't you try it out? Tell me what you think. [upbeat music] - Oh my God.
- Wow. - That's really good. - It's delicious. - That's so good.
- That's a good potato. - Salty, tasty. - It tastes different than any I've before. - Crusty on the outside, and moist and delicious on the inside.
- I like that the skins on. The rustic cut and flavor. - I feel like I wouldn't have to eat like a whole bunch of them to be full and to be satisfied. - The sour cream and bacon kind of tops it off. - So how would you compare that to potatoes you'd get at other restaurants? - Better.
[laughing] Yeah. Better, for sure. - It's like a better version of like your loaded nachos. You know, like it's a really, it's delicious.
- It's like a real potato. - I mean, this is just incredible. - I would eat a whole thing of those. - 10 out of 10. Would recommend.
- I would eat buckets. Honestly. - Coming up, Tomás is learning how drone technology is helping Washington potato farmers. - This is the very cutting edge. This is just being deployed for the first time in the world right here.
[upbeat music] [upbeat music] - I'm going to talk to you a little bit today about how to grow your garden, to suit your own needs. One of the things that I always tell my clients is that you should grow your garden in such a way that you're going to use it as often as possible. So the more likely you are to use your produce, the more likely you are to weed in your garden as well.
So you should grow whatever you're going to use the most often. Right close to where you're going to harvest. In my garden, I have herbs that are just close to the back door. So I walk out, I can snip a few herbs for dinner and they're right there. So I don't have to travel far.
And I'm more likely to use them often if they're close to me. The things that I don't use very often I grow the farthest away from my house in kind of a hard to reach area. So my winter squash is sort of off in the distance, and I don't need to mess with that ever.
It's on an automatic drip. It just does its own thing until the fall when I go up there and I gather all my squashes. When you're planting your garden, you want to make sure that you are keeping good track of where you seeded things and what they're looking like as they're coming up. Now, you want to work with weeding as you're growing because you don't want the weeds to out-compete your seeds.
Make sure that you're checking in to see if what's coming up in your garden is a weed or if it's what you wanted. A lot of seed packets are printed with what the seed is going to look like when it germinates. And so just check back there. When you're planning what to grow in your garden, make sure that you're picking something that you love to eat. Just because somebody says, "Hey, tomatoes grow great here." Doesn't mean that you have to grow them in your own garden.
If you don't like them, don't grow them. If you love to eat salad, then just grow so much salad. That's okay, too. The only person that you have to please with your garden is you. - Potato farmers in Washington do a great job growing the best potatoes in the world, but they also face many challenges. Pests like the Colorado potato beetle can destroy crops.
So researchers like Tim Waters with WSU Extension are working with farmers to develop solutions. - If you have a disease or a pest that starts in this field, and it's uniformly distributed across this field, then you've already incurred damage. But if you find that pest or that disease when it's a low population, we can come in and we can control that and then keep it from spreading throughout the field. So it's really important that we cover as much territory as we can to find these detections when they're first arrived. - There are a laundry list of pests that growers have to manage all simultaneously.
- Alan Schreiber is the president of Agriculture Development. Together, he and Tim are working on improved ways to detect pests so that farmers can use fewer pesticides to get rid of them. - So what we're doing is we're taking scouts and walking throughout this whole field. - So they basically start on the edge, and they make a zigzag pattern through the field.
- The entire field - The entire field. Yep. - That's a day. - Better not be a day 'cause they got a lot of fields to do, right? They're dislodging insects off of the plant. And there they're counting the number of beneficial and pest insects with throughout the field. - Alan and Tim work with a company out of Israel called AgraScout.
They're using drone technology to detect pests in potato fields. - The drone will fly through the field in a gridded pattern. Every two seconds, it captures an image. The rotor wash will turn a leaf over, and so it's getting pictures of the underneath side of the leaves and also the top of the leaf surfaces.
- Those images then get uploaded. And then the software has algorithms that basically tries to determine what the camera is seeing on the leaves. It tells us where there's abnormalities on the plant that correspond to images that that software is learned are a pest. And it will basically show us red spots that are spots where there's been a detection. We can then click on those individual images and it will tell us, this is a Colorado potato beetle.
- We'll be able to detect diseases and insects far quicker and far more accurately than what we can now. - When we're doing our scout, we're stopping at 16 sites in this field that has thousands of plants. But when that drone flies over, it's going to sample a huge part of that field. - It'll take us over an hour to do it. It'll take the drone 20 minutes.
This is the very cutting edge. This is just being deployed for the first time in the world, right here. - We grow the highest yielding potatoes, probably in the world, in this region.
The quality is very high. We want to improve on that. That's what keeps us going. - It sounds cliche, but this is kind of the future is now.
- This is what gets us up in the morning and gets us coming to work. - And if you want to know what agriculture is going to look like five years from now, it's what we're doing right now. [upbeat music] - We're in the kitchen at Second Harvest Food Bank in Spokane, and we are ready to taste test some recipes from allrecipes.com. And I've got my taste testers here. I have Tomás, my co-host joining me.
And the Laurent, a local owner, restaurant owner, and chef. Thank you for being here. - Well thank you for having me. It's good to see you. - Well, we all love Washington grown potatoes. Right? - Who doesn't like potatoes? I'm trying to convince my wife that potatoes is a vegetable, you know, like this I can eat more.
[laughing] - It's so good. And you can cook them so many ways, right? - Yeah. - They're pretty versatile. I mean, I think of the top three foods I would need to have at all times would be cheese, bacon and potatoes. - And all at once, too. You can have 'em all at once.
- Eat them all at once. - I'm with you, Tomás. [laughing] - Whether they're French fries or mashed or roasted, baked. - Boiled.
- Boiled. - In a stew. - Yeah. And so these are fondant potatoes. - Yes. - So explain that.
- It's a very old school, very classic recipes where basically you, you braise your potatoes into a broth. Cook it slowly in the oven, covered with a broth. And that potato will absorb all the broth, and it's going to be melting in your mouth. Which is the word 'fondant.'
- Oh, cool. - Fondant. So let's all say it together.
- Fondant. - Okay. And so these are fondant potatoes by Chef John, and he says this old school method, like Laurent says, provides for russet potatoes, is unlike anything that you can get by just roasting. It's dense, moist, and rich.
The way the crusty crunchy edges outside contrast with uniquely rich and creamy inside is truly a magical thing. - It sounds amazing. He did a great job describing that. - So let's take a look. Alright these look so pretty and so delicious. They smell great.
- It smells, I love the smell of the fresh thyme. - Yes. - And they look creamier. - This is how you impress your family over here. - Absolutely. - With a dish like this.
- Absolutely. - You have the, the flavor of the broth inside the potatoes. - Right. - And I love, I love the color also of the crust, you know, because you, you sear them, you sauté them, then you add your, your broth into it. - Really good.
- It's a braising technique. - I like how the potato flavor comes out, too. - It's robust. - It's not overwhelmed by, you know, the braising liquid or anything like that. - Delicious.
- Really good. So some comments from readmylips26. [laughing] Read my lips says, "These are great. The best potatoes I have made. Creamy with the flavor of the stock.
I didn't have russet potatoes, so I used red potatoes making sure of the size for the correct baking time." And then a Karina says, "While a bit decadent in terms of fat content, these potatoes make a unique and luxurious side dish for a special meal." - Yeah. - Agreed.
- Yeah, for sure. - Luxurious is a good way to put it. Well, thank you Chef John. - Thank you. - Thank you.
- To get the recipe for fondant potatoes, visit wagrown.com. It's no surprise that Washington potatoes are America's favorite and most versatile vegetable. Keep up the good work Washington potato growers. We love you.
That's it for this episode of Washington Grown. Thanks for watching.