In this week’s edition of the 50 states tasting tour we look at Idaho. 

While many state names have meaning in other languages, Idaho is completely made up. Lore has it a mining lobbyist presented the name to congress and claimed it was a Native American phrase that meant “Gem of the Mountains.”

Allegedly, the man, George Willing, also fraudulently won an election as a delegate from the territory that later became Colorado, but the results were never certified so he couldn’t take office.

On July 3, 1890 Idaho became a state. In 1890, records show the state’s population was about 88,500 people. Now, it is home to 1.85 million people.

Boise holds the title of being the state capital and is the largest city as well with about 226,000 residents.

Idaho is known for trout, outdoor recreation and potatoes, which brings us to this week’s recipes.

Hasselback Idaho tater

Hasselback taters are easy to make and provide a unique appearance on the plate. Grab four russet taters, butter, fresh rosemary, garlic clove, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and was the potatoes. Grab a bowl that will fit four taters, fill it half way with cold water. Squeeze 2 tablespoon of lemon juice into it the cold water.

Take the tater and cut into slits, but do not cut all the way through. The slices should be connected at the bottom. After the tater is fully slit, carefully fan out the pieces. Then place the potato in the bowl of cold lemon water while you cut the next tater.

Then, grabe a clove of garlic and slice thinly. If you have fresh parsley, now would be a good time to chop that as well. Keep the garlic and parsley seperate.

After the taters are cut, grab a sauce pan, turn the heat onto medium and melt six tablespoons of butter. After the butter has melted take four sprigs of rosemary and place them in the pan. Add the sliced clove of garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low and let the butter season.

Grab the taters from the lemon water and dry. I mean really dry them as much as possible. When dry, place on a baking sheet and grab a brush. Dip the brush in some melted butter and brush the each tater. Don’t use all of the butter mixture though.

Bake for an hour and you’ll see the taters start to fan out. That is the time to grab the brush and give it another go with the butter mixture. Again, don’t use it all.  

Cook the tater another 10 minutes (or until done) and now is the time to go to town and use the rest of the butter mixture. The final touch is to sprinkle with salt, pepper and garnish with chopped parsley.

The final product will offer a creamy (mashed like) texture and the outsides will be crisp.

Sweet tater puree 

This recipe calls for three pounds of whole sweet potatoes, salt, ground pepper, buttermilk, milk and butter.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grab the taters and prick with a fork on all sides.

Line a pan with foil and place the taters on it and bake for 50 minutes, or until tender. Let them cool, and when you can hold them, peel the taters.

Place the taters in a food processor (or if you don’t have one a mixing bowl can do the job). Gradually add 1/2 cup of buttermilk and 1/2 cup of whole milk. Let it mix properly and then add six tablespoons of softened butter.