Heirloom Recipe from Directions for Cookery, 1840
How to Boil Potatoes
(I have to admit, these sounds scrumptious!) Wonder if my 1840 ancestor made them this way??
Potatoes that are boiled together, should be as nearly as possible of the same size. Wash, but do not pare them. Put them into a pot with water enough to cover them about an inch, and do not put on the pot lid. When the water is very near boiling, pour it off, and replace it with the same quantity of cold water, into which throw a good portion of salt. The cold water sends the heat from the surface to the heart, and makes the potatoes mealy. Potatoes of a moderate size will require about half an hour boiling; large ones an hour. Try them with a fork. When done, pour off the water, cover the pot with a folded napkin, or flannel, and let them stand by the fire about a quarter of an hour to dry.
Peel them and send them to table.
Potatoes should not be served up with the skins on. It has a coarse, slovenly look, and disfigures the appearance of the dinner; besides the trouble and inconvenience of peeling them at table.
When the skins crack in boiling, it is no proof that they are done, as too much fire under the pot will cause the skins of some potatoes to break while the inside is hard.
After March, when potatoes are old, it is best to pare them before boiling and to cut out all the blemishes. It is then better to mash them always before they are sent to table. Mash them when quite hot, using a potato-beetle for the purpose; add to them a piece of fresh butter, and a little salt, and, if convenient, some milk, which will greatly improve them. You may score and brown them on the top.
A very nice way of serving up potatoes is, after they are peeled, to pour over them some hot cream in which a very little butter has been melted, and sprinkle them with pepper. This is frequently done in country houses where cream is plenty. New potatoes (as they are called when quite young) require no peeling, but should be well washed and brushed before they are boiled.