A few years back, I started seeing a lot of fingerling potatoes kicking around places like the Food Network. It seemed that they were one of the new food trends along the lines of grilled lettuce and things of that nature. (Have you ever tried grilled romaine lettuce? I have, and I lived to tell the tale, but I wouldn't rush out to try it again.)
Anyway, I'd never seen a real live fingerling potato until a couple of weeks ago when I was at my brother and SIL's place for dinner, and Shan had acquired some of the potatoes at our local big box grocery store. Surprisingly, the local overpriced grocery store doesn't carry them, though they tout themselves as being a step up from the competition around here. Shan made fries out of the fingerlings and they were super simple and super yummy. The other day, I happened to be in the vicinity of the local big box grocery store while I was dropping off baking for the SPCA bake sale, and I took the opportunity to pick up some fingerlings for myself. They were $4.49 for 5lbs. I thought this was steep for fracking potatoes, but I sucked it up and paid anyway.
After doing a very minimal amount of research, I learned that fingerlings are often a heritage variety, much like heirloom tomatoes. I also learned that there are about 8 different varieties of fingerlings. This site gives you a run-down.
Donna-FFW might agree with me when I say that some of the names of the varieties sound a bit pornographic to me. I mean, the "Purple Peruvian?" The "Russian Banana?" Please!
Anyway, what are they like? Well, astonishingly, they are rather like...potatoes. They are waxy like new potatoes or Yukon Golds, and have yellow flesh like Yukon Golds. I can't remember the last time I tasted a Yukon Gold so I can't compare flavour, but the fingerlings taste very much like the red nugget potatoes I've been eating lately.
They do, however, as I knew from my meal at my brother's place, make great fries. Facilitated by their narrow shape, you just need to cut them in half lengthwise, add some olive oil and seasonings, and Bob's your proverbial uncle.They cook quickly enough, which is helpful, and I can see that they'd be great in soups and stews, and that their neat shape would make potato salads a little more visually interesting. The purple ones would be totally cool in salads.
I'm not potato conoisseur, but I kinda liked the fingerling in the end, price and all.