There are countless ways to cook potatoes, but boiling them is common. Sometimes potatoes are boiled for mashing afterward, or simply to add a little butter and fresh parsley as a side dish. Simmering potatoes simply means allowing them to cook in boiling water on low heat until they are soft enough to eat. According to Epicurious' Food Dictionary, the desired temperature is about 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people will simmer the water in a steamer beneath the potatoes, so the vegetable doesn't actually touch the water. But usually, simmering is indicative of the food cooking slowly in water.
Things You'll Need
Fresh, whole potatoes
Large cooking pot
Potato peeler (optional if you prefer a knife)
Colander or strainer
Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut out any eyes and black spots or bad sections. How many you use will be determined by how many people you are cooking for 1.5 to 2 large potatoes per person ought to be sufficient.
Quarter the peeled potatoes, rinse and drain. Place them in the pot. If you leave them whole, allow more cooking time since quartering reduces time.
Fill the pot with fresh water to cover the potatoes with an extra inch or two of water over them. Put the pot on the stove and bring it to a full boil.
Reduce the heat beneath the pot of potatoes to the lowest setting. The water will simmer and the potatoes will cook slowly.
Fork the potatoes about six to eight minutes into simmering to check them. They are done if the fork goes in completely, with ease. They may be overdone if they break apart or crumble. If they are still firm, allow them to simmer a little longer, checking every couple of minutes for doneness. If you plan to mash leave, leave them firm, but not mushy or they will be too runny when you later add butter and milk or cream.
Remove the potatoes from the heat once they are softened appropriately. Drain the water from them. Serve as desired.
Leaving the skins on the potatoes adds nutrients to you meal. It's a matter of personal preference whether or not to leave them on or peel them.
Some people like adding salt to the boiling water, some prefer to wait until the potatoes are cooked, and others leave salt out of their diet. It's up to you, but be mindful of cooking for people on low sodium regimes.
Always use proper caution when cooking or when around hot stoves. Boiling can sometimes splatter water outside the pot, too.
Don't leave the room or leave cooking food on a stove for too long as it can burn.