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La Ratte Potatoes
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The La Ratte potato is a small to medium sized potato, ovate and tubular in shape, often with a slight curvature to its body. It has a smooth golden skin speckled faintly with tan spotting and shallow eyes. It flesh is a golden yellow with a firm and waxy texture that it maintains even with cooking. The cooked La Ratte offers buttery flavors and pronounced nutty undertones of hazelnut. The nutty taste La Ratte potatoes are known for French growers insist is a result of the soil quality the potatoes are grown in, similar to the way grape growers consider soil quality an important factor in the taste of their grapes and subsequent wine they are used to make.
La Ratte potatoes are typically available year-round with a peak season in the spring and summer months.
The La Ratte, also known as Ratte, Asparges, and La Reine, is a French heirloom potato. Botanically a part of Solanum tuberosum the La Ratte is a fingerling potato sought after for its excellence in both flavor and texture. Generally hand harvested and low yielding it is not surprising that the La Ratte has come to be known among chefs as a boutique potato and fetches a high price in the marketplace. In the United States, the La Ratte is sometimes sold under the name La Reine, which translates to mean “the queen” in French. The name is registered with the United States Patent Office by potato farmer James Huston who created the La Reine by breeding the La Ratte specifically so it could be propagated for commercial production in the United States.
Like most potatoes the La Ratte offers a significant amount of water, starch, and fiber. They also contain enough nutrients to stand on their own as a source of sustenance. The La Ratte additionally offers a healthy amount of vitamin C as well as potassium.
Known to be one of the finest flavored fingerlings on the potato market the La Ratte is best showcased in preparations that allow its flavor and texture to take center stage. The thin skin of the La Ratte potato is so delicate that it is easily removed once cooked, though it can be consumed skin on as well. La Ratte can be roasted, sautéed or braised then dressed simply with fresh herbs, vinegar, and olive oil. Boiled and pureed they make an exceptional base for soups and sauces. La Ratte potatoes hold up their shape well when even when overcooked and consequently work perfectly as a salad potato or boiled and smashed slightly with a fork. Complimentary ingredients for the La Ratte potato include thyme, tarragon, endive, shallots, garlic, browned butter, cream, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, truffle oil, capers, and bacon. Due to the La Ratte potato’s delicate nature, it does not store quite as long as other fingerings, be sure to keep them in a cool, dry and dark location until ready to use. Never refrigerate as this can negatively impact the flavor and texture of the La Ratte and cause it to deteriorate quickly.
An old fashioned variety potato in France, the La Ratte, never experienced widespread commercial success though in recent years has gleaned some culinary esteem because of its use as a choice potato by high-end chefs of France. Chef Joel Robuchon is known to use them to make his signature puree, and Chef Christian Constant of the Hotel de Crillon serves them mashed roughly. Their popularity is not limited to France, Chef Charlie Trotter of Chicago’s Charlie Trotter, Chef Terrence Brennan of Picholine, and Chef and owner Fernando Maschi of Il Mulino in New York are all said to be fans of the La Ratte as well.
According to the European Cultivated Potato Database, the La Ratte potato is considered to be native to both Denmark and France and was first cultivated in the 19th Century. By 1934, however, the La Ratte nearly disappeared from the potato market as a result of degeneration of the seed. It is believed that around 1965 the La Ratte was found growing in France then slowly the seed was improved and La Ratte was reintroduced to the French potato growing circuit. Since its return to the market it has been highly regarded in France, and in the United States La Ratte has achieved a niche farmers market following since its arrival in 1990. One of the first growers to popularize the La Ratte potato in the United States is owed to 5th generation potato and onion farmer James Huston who read of a French farmer Jean-Pierre Clot who was selling his La Ratte potatoes grown in Marne-la-Vallee to the high-end chefs of Paris. Mr. Huston ordered plants from Mr. Clot and had them sent to the United States Agriculture Department laboratory for breeding to create a commercially viable version of the La Ratte. Mr. Huston also sent Mr. Clot soil samples from various potato growing regions in the United States and together they decided Oregon would provide the most ideal soil and growing conditions for the La Ratte. Once planted the La Ratte is typically ready for harvest within 120 days of planting when the above ground greens have turned brown and begun to wither away. The delicate La Ratte are often harvested by hand to prevent damage to their thin skins.
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Chino's Vegetable Shop
Chino FarmsNear Fairbanks Ranch, California, United States
6123 Calzada Del Bosque, Rancho Santa Fe 92067
About 536 days ago, 6/01/16
Spotter's comments : La Ratte Potatoes spotted at Chino's Vegetable Shop.